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Migrant workers face squeeze amid global crisis: ILO chief

Migrant workers face squeeze amid global crisis: ILO chief

MANILA - Millions of migrant workers face layoffs and worsening conditions as the global financial crisis bites in the countries where they are employed, the International Labour Organisation said Wednesday.

“Past experience makes us painfully aware that migrant workers, especially women workers and those in irregular status, are among the hardest hit and most vulnerable during crisis situations,” ILO Director General Juan Somavia said.

The Geneva-based UN agency’s regional office for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, in Manila, released the statement on the eve of International Migrants Day, Wednesday.

“While the full impact of the crisis on migrant workers is yet to unfold, there are reports of direct layoffs, worsening working conditions including wage cuts, increasing returns and reductions in immigrant intakes,” he said.

Somavia appealed to governments in host countries to “assess their labour market needs before resorting to general layoffs of migrant workers. It is important that migrant workers do not become scapegoats for the current financial and economic crisis.”

Somavia said at least 100 million men and women have left home to find work in another part of the world.

In October Somavia had warned that the financial crisis could lead to record global unemployment, with 20 million more people out of work by the end of 2009.

It is important that migrant

workers do not become scapegoats .

In the Philippines, one of the biggest labour-exporting countries in the world, the government has reported that several thousand of its nationals have lost their jobs abroad.

The downturn comes after a record year for remittances from Filipino workers abroad. According to figures from the Central Bank of the Philippines, these workers sent US$1.43 billion home in October, up 3.3 percent on a year earlier.

It was the second-largest amount in a single month since records began, behind the $1.45 billion remitted in June.

The eight million Filipinos working abroad remitted a total $13.71 billion in the 10 months to October, up 16 percent from 11.87 billion a year earlier.  

Figures from Cambodia’s Ministry of Labour show more than 70,000 Cambodians work abroad. Remittances accounted for four percent of the country’s national income last year, according to the World Bank.  

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