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New York City, New York - October 1, 2013

People’s Global Action – Day Two
 
Global Workers co-sponsored a panel with Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan, Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM), and Centro de los Derechos del Migrante.  Executive Director, Cathleen Caron moderated the panel entitled, Cross Border Strategies to Challenge and Document Abuses in Temporary worker Programs.  Since the first PGA in 2007, there has been very little discussion and analysis of temporary worker visa programs. For that reason, at prior PGAs Global Workers organized panels on that topic to bring more visibility to the issue. This allowed Global Workers to dig deeper and tease out world wide-examples of cross border, portable justice work.
 
Foreign temporary worker programs offer unique governance challenges because migrants work in a country that is not their own and then must return home when the contract ends.  The programs are riddled with abuses from recruitment to the worksite.  Once home accessing justice for abuses suffered abroad, portable justice, is severely limited.  Efforts to combat these abuses face formidable geographical and jurisdictional barriers.  The workshop identified specific challenges transnational migrant workers face and explored coordinated efforts between the countries of employment and origin to engage cross border strategies, including documenting abuses, to more effectively advance litigation and policy to combat abuse in the temporary worker visa programs.  We shared examples from across the globe to identify the most serious obstacles as well as promising models and initiatives, in order to expand the reach of these efforts to affect substantive change in these programs. 
 
Global Workers Guatemala Defender, Miriam Ramirez explained the Global Workers Defender Network and how working collaboratively across borders efficiently and effectively advanced specific cases and policy efforts in Guatemala.  Other panelists and participants shared examples from Japan, Mexico, Sweden and Israel. What was clear was that Global Workers efforts uniquely address a global gap in thinking about how to work with the increasing numbers of transnational migrants—213,000,000 and counting according to the latest figures.  European representative Michele Levoy, from PICUM stressed that the Global Workers model and work was very necessary to advance the rights of transnational workers.  Cross-border strategies are not yet being as extensively developed in Europe nor in other regions as they are between North and Central America.  She said she cited often that Global Workers is a model that deserved to be replicated.
 
Over lunch, the Global Workers team met with members of the Canadian delegation to discuss the Guatemala-Canada Temporary Foreign Workers Program.  The International Organization of Migration (IOM) has temporarily suspended its recruitment of workers due in large part to inability to compete with the other recruiter in Guatemala, Amigo Laboral, which happens to be run by the former IOM director.  Allegedly, Amigo Laboral illegally shifts some of costs of recruitment to the workers so that the Canadian employers pay nothing.  We discussed how to support “clean recruitment” from Guatemala and the need to document the current recruitment abuses so that we have evidence to move policy and law enforcement actors into action.
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