Bilateral labour migration agreements (BLMAs) across the region and with third countries.

Bilateral labour migration agreements can be useful migration governance tools to facilitate safe, regular and orderly labour migration between countries, when addressing both labour market needs and the protection of migrant workers and can be more beneficial if they are based on social dialogue.  The advantages of such agreements are that they can be adapted to the particularities of specific groups of migrants, and that both the sending and the receiving State can share the burden of ensuring adequate living and working conditions as well as monitoring, and more actively managing, the pre- and post-migration processes.

The SAMM project has the objective of supporting SADC countries in the formulation and effective implementation of Bilateral Labour Migration Agreements (BLMAs) between countries of origin and countries of destination. Work will ensure the inclusion of labour protection provisions. ILO’s Recommendation 86 includes a model Bilateral Labour Migration Agreement that contains 28 Protecting Provisions to be considered by countries when negotiating BLMAS. It also includes a model employment contract that can be included in the implementation of BLMAs.

GCM Objective 5 “Enhance availability and flexibility of pathways for regular migration” establishes that Member States commit to adapt options and pathways for regular migration in a manner that facilitates labour mobility and decent work reflecting demographic and labour market realities, optimizes education opportunities, upholds the right to family life, and responds to the needs of migrants in a situation of vulnerability, with a view to expanding and diversifying availability of pathways for safe, orderly and regular migration.

To realize this commitment, Member States draw from the following actions:

(a) Develop human rights-based and gender-responsive bilateral, regional and multilateral labour mobility agreements with sector-specific standard terms of employment in cooperation with relevant stakeholders, drawing on relevant International Labour Organization (ILO) standards, guidelines and principles, in compliance with international human rights and labour law;

(b) Facilitate regional and cross-regional labour mobility through international and bilateral cooperation arrangements, such as free movement regimes, visa liberalization or multiple-country visas, and labour mobility cooperation frameworks, in accordance with national priorities, local market needs and skills supply;

(c) Review and revise existing options and pathways for regular migration, with a view to optimizing skills-matching in labour markets and addressing demographic realities and development challenges and opportunities, in accordance with local and national labour market demands and skills supply, in consultation with the private sector and other relevant stakeholders;

(d) Develop flexible, rights-based and gender-responsive labour mobility schemes for migrants, in accordance with local and national labour market needs and skills supply at all skills levels, including temporary, seasonal, circular and fast-track programmes in areas of labour shortages, by providing flexible, convertible and non-discriminatory visa and permit options, such as for permanent and temporary work, multiple-entry study, business, visit, investment and entrepreneurship;

(e) Promote effective skills-matching in the national economy by involving local authorities and other relevant stakeholders, particularly the private sector and trade unions, in the analysis of the local labour market, identification of skills gaps, definition of required skills profiles, and evaluation of the efficacy of labour migration policies, in order to ensure market-responsive contractual labour mobility through regular pathways;