The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has taken a seeming bold step against unethical recruitment practices and gaps in the governance of labour migration that are said to be leading risks facing migrant workers in the global economy.
Fee-charging to workers, fraud during the hiring process, the confiscation of personal documents: these are all-too-common abuses that migrants encounter during the hiring process.
For the United Nations migration agency, there is no better time than now to address these challenges.
To this end, IOM and H&M Group have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to promote cooperation and mutual assistance in relation to the ethical recruitment and protection of migrant workers in global supply chains.
The MoU was signed by the Head of IOM’s office in Finland, Simo Kohonen, and H&M Group’s Head of Sustainability, Anna Gedda.
IOM is the leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration and combats all forms of exploitation and abuse of migrant workers, while H&M Group is a public company that operates retail stores in more than 70 countries and partners with suppliers in over 30 countries.
Sustainable Development Goal 10, Reduce Inequality Within and Among Countries, highlights safe migration and migrant workers as priorities for engagement, and IOM and H&M Group are committed to contributing to its realisation.
This MoU will leverage the strengths, expertise and global footprint of IOM and H&M Group to enhance migrant protections and improve the recruitment, employment and livelihood opportunities for migrants.
IOM Deputy Director General, Laura Thompson, said: “IOM is delighted to enter into this partnership with H&M Group today. With this MoU, the company shows its true commitment and leadership in the fashion industry. We look forward to bringing our mutual strengths to tackle the complex challenges facing migrant workers in supply chains.”
H&M’s Anna Gedda said: “The partnership with IOM will strengthen our work to ensure fair working conditions for migrant workers in our supply chain. By joining forces, we can more efficiently address the systemic challenges migrant workers face. We see a need to collectively advocate for improved legislation and cross-border regulations at the same time as continuing the work on the ground, together with our business partners and other brands.”
IOM’s Labour Mobility and Human Development Division focuses on the protection of migrant workers and seeks to enhance the benefits of labour migration for all parties involved.
The Division operates the International Recruitment Integrity System (IRIS) – a global initiative designed to promote ethical recruitment with the support of governments, civil society, the labour movement, the private sector, and ethical recruiters.
IOM also implements the Corporate Responsibility in Eliminating Slavery and Trafficking (CREST) programme, which works collaboratively with companies to tackle the vulnerabilities of migrant workers in supply chains.
H&M Group, with its newly launched Migrant Workers Fair Recruitment and Treatment Guideline, seeks to contribute to address the working conditions of migrant workers on the ground in its sourcing countries and collaborate with IOM to address the systemic and governance challenges ahead.