Quality Public Services for Decent Work can make migration an option, not the only choice

Public Services International (PSI), the global trade union federation representing 20 million working women and men who deliver vital public services in 150 countries, reiterates the call of the global trade union movement that the UN High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development must deliver on the rights-based approach to migration and development. This statement aligns with the Global Unions statement submitted to the UN High Level Dialogue.

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In the midst of an economic and unemployment crisis that continues to unfold and spill-over to economies in both North and South, PSI comes to the UN High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development with a strong reminder to states on the role of public services in promoting development and rights-based migration policies.

Public services are a public good, designed to work in the interest of the people. Concern for the quality of public services is a mark of a society’s self-respect and commitment to caring for all, especially its most vulnerable members. When public services are cut, working families suffer, jobs are lost and poverty spreads, forcing people to migrate. When access to public services are denied, migrant workers and their families, women, children and young workers, are disproportionately affected.

Public services provide equitable redistribution of wealth; and in their delivery, work to ensure that people are treated with equal respect, provided equal protection, and live free of discrimination. Social safety nets in public policies and services mitigate the rise of racism and xenophobia which can occur as a consequence of the crisis.

Public services are an asset for sustainable development. They are essential for responsible public and private wealth creation and sustainable economic growth. Public services are the vehicles to guarantee social protection for all. A sustainable post-2015 Development Agenda cannot be achieved without viable publicly-run and supported public services. Public services and public policies enhance the sovereignty of states in bringing development to their people.

Public services are at the core of democratic societies founded on human rights, the rule of law and social solidarity. Gender-sensitive and rights-based migration policies must be supported by public policies. The UN International Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families and the ILO Conventions on Migrant Workers C97 and C143 set forth a comprehensive normative framework on migration policy. The ILO Domestic Workers Convention brings legal protection to domestic workers long excluded from labour laws. Regulating the labour recruitment industry demands urgent attention and requires mutual cooperation by governments, social partners and civil society.

Public services generate decent work. The highest quality of public services can only be delivered by workers whose rights are fully respected. To this end, Public Services International defends and advances the fundamental rights and conditions of work for all workers across the globe regardless of status. These rights begin with the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining.

Public services are the foundation for decent work and decent life. To achieve quality public services is to achieve development, equality and prosperity for all. Only then can migration become an option, and not the only choice.