With horrid accounts of abuse involving migrant workers, several labor-related nonprofit organisations direct their attention toward information technology, particularly crowdsourcing as a viable solution for promoting labor rights.
An effective and efficient system for obtaining and utilising information pertaining to labor conditions is critical to an active and successful enforcement of applicable labor laws. Han van de Glind, International Labor Organisation senior migration specialist, shared this proposition during an interview with Migrant-Right.org.
“As a way forward, information technology–such as crowdsourcing–holds promise as a way to engage workers and the public at large in reporting on migrant worker abuse,” said van de Glind.
United States-based labor-related nonprofit organisation Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc. (CDM) has launched in September its IT-driven project Contratados.
Developed in collaboration with Research Action Design, Studio REV, and the Migrant Defense Committee, the project is a social justice initiative that uses technology and art to promote transparency and combat abuse in US guest worker programs.
“Contratados is a groundbreaking tool that provides workers with resources to more securely navigate the recruitment and employment process.
“Using the crowdsourcing website similar to Yelp.com and the accompanying hotline, workers themselves can write reviews of recruiters and employers and collectively fill critical gaps in publicly available information about international labor recruitment,” said CDM in a statement.
Other labor-related organisations have been using crowdsourcing to promote the interest of migrant workers.
Following the video of a Lebanese employer beating his female Ethiopian domestic worker Alem Dechessa that went viral in 2012, the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association and Human Rights Watch launched a crowdsourcing website.
The about page of the website reads, “This site has been created so all concerned global citizens, Human Rights Organisations, and abused migrants can report, log and share the heinous practice of abusing immigrant domestic workers by Middle Eastern employees.”
In Europe, migrant workers and concerned citizens have turned to crowdsourcing apps and social media to combat the Mos Maiourum joint operation.
Spearheaded by the Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Mos Maiourum is a Joint Police Operation launched in October 2014 to identify main transit flows of illegal immigrants.
Both migrant workers and concerned citizens in Europe expressed deep concern as the operation may lead to abuse and racial profiling. So far, crowdsourcing and related online tools have been helping migrants evade crackdown by EU officials.
EDITOR’S NOTE: There is an estimated 232 million migrant workers across the world according to the 2013 data from the United Nations. Europe and Asia host the largest number of international migrants. Ethiopian domestic worker Alem Dechessa was found death in hospital, having apparently killed herself due to extreme abuse suffered at the hands of her employer. She was 33 and a mother of two.