RecruitmentAdvisor: the new platform for fair recruitment and migrant worker empowerment

Unscrupulous recruiters and employers make US$150 billion dollars (about €123 billion) in illegal profits on the backs of millions of workers every year. The numbers of workers in forced labour, which includes human trafficking, keeps rising. Latest estimates identify 40 million people trapped in modern slavery worldwide.

In reality, there are likely to be millions more, as the lack of transparency in migration agreements facilitates corruption, while gaps in regulation on recruitment and enforcement of labour law leaves migrant workers unprotected and vulnerable to forced labour. For now, those who profit from this business model – the corrupts agents, unscrupulous recruiters and irresponsible businesses – enjoy almost total impunity.

Despite high-profile global initiatives such as Alliance 8.7, there does not seem to be a real sense of urgency amongst the international community to seriously improve the recruitment business for migrant workers.

The adoption of the 2014 Forced Labour Protocol offered hope as the treaty outlines an excellent regulatory framework. An overwhelming majority of states adopted it at the International Labour Organization (ILO). Four years later however, ratifications and national transposition is slow. Only 22 countries have joined, despite ambitions to reach 50 signatories by the end of the year.

In addition, governments seem to continue to prefer shady bilateral and regional agreements on migration to transparent multilateral governance that can hold them accountable. The Global Compact on Migration has to get it right to change this. The International Trade Union Confederation’s (ITUC) Global Rights Index also shows that labour protections are persistently weakened around the world.

In such a context, migrant workers are left to fend for themselves. The only effective way for workers to escape vulnerability is to organise and find strength in collective action.

Recently, the ITUC launched Its ambition is to help migrant workers build that power and end exploitation. It allows workers to connect and learn from each other’s experiences with recruitment agencies and employment abroad. A few clicks in response to targeted questions will measure the performance of recruiters against the General Principles and Operational Guidelines for Fair Recruitment recently negotiated between workers, employers and governments as the global reference under the auspices of the ILO. It offers accurate information about workers’ rights in both countries of origin and destination, as well as a complaints mechanism that supports migrant workers who want to address cases of abuse.

Importantly, the website is hosted and moderated by independent trade unions, not a commercial enterprise or a state authority. aims to build trust and solidarity between migrant workers and trade unions. Trade union outreach and organising on the ground will generate more reviews, in addition to offering more and better information to help migrant workers make a choice. Unions will be able to engage in social dialogue with governments and companies armed with accurate data on decent work deficits faced by migrant workers.

However, in the long run, government ownership and a relationship with the business community will be indispensable to ensure scale, sustainability and effectiveness of the initiative. Ultimately, all have a shared interest in fair recruitment. informs migrant workers and exposes unscrupulous and informally-operating recruiters. This is in turn allows governments to take action while helping to ensure fair competition to ethical recruiters. It could complement or possibly – with the necessary safeguards to protect migrant workers and their data – even merge with other global initiatives such as the International Organization for Migration’s government and business-led IRIS system.

As always, migrant workers themselves will judge whether actually responds to their needs, and they will be able to shape its future. We will be able to draw lessons to see how technology can help to organise workers who are hard to reach through face-to-face organising models, and we are hopeful that it can grow to become a real milestone in strengthening international solidarity and building global workers’ power.