Building worker resilience to labor exploitation during recruitment from Uttar Pradesh to jobs in Qatar, UAE, and Jordan
Going beyond Pre-Departure Training: Developing capacity to disseminate Pre-Employment Guidance to workers in India
Post-Deployment Guidance: Developing civil society capacity to provide foreign workers in the Gulf States and Jordan with advice and guidance to access available resources to address labor exploitation
Commenced in 2017, Verité’s project focuses on addressing forced labor risk and promoting the rights of Indian migrant workers and safe and fair labor migration to the receiving countries of Qatar, the UAE, and Jordan. In India, Verité project activities take place in Uttar Pradesh, the state with the highest level of out-migration of low-wage workers for foreign employment in Gulf States and Jordan.
The project supports civil society strategies to address well-documented abuses in the target overseas labor recruitment corridors, including but not limited to: contract substitution, withholding of passports and restrictions on freedom of movement, wage deception, debt bondage resulting from recruitment fee-charging and deceptive recruitment, withholding and non-payment of wages, physical abuse, deplorable living conditions, and poor access to support services to address labor abuses.
The project is funded by the United States Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL), and is implemented by Verité in partnership with Lawyers Without Borders, Free the Slaves, and the Just Good Work mobile app developer Fifty Eight.
To address labor recruitment abuses, the project employs a four-pronged strategy of: (1) strengthening civil society initiatives; (2) building civil society networks; (3) enhancing migrant outreach and awareness; and (4) applying ICT tools to enable migrants’ access to credible information about safe migration and resources through mobile phone apps, and to engage the private sector through digitized forced labor risk screens to increase demand for ethical recruitment.
The project leverages existing initiatives to strengthen civil society interventions and establishes new structures where needs and gaps are identified. It is designed to enable greater sustainability and to complement, not replace, existing policy, regulations, enforcement, and market-based interventions.
Pre-Employment Guidance vs. Pre-Departure Training:
Focus on Area of Greatest Risk
Building Worker Resilience with Pre-Employment and Post-Deployment Guidance
Pre-Employment Guidance: Indian migrant workers are supported by civil society organizations and empowered with the knowledge and resources they need to make informed decisions about whether and how to seek safe and rewarding employment overseas. It is crucial that support begins early in the recruitment process so migrant workers can navigate and mitigate risks during the process of seeking foreign employment.
To facilitate this, information may be communicated directly to workers through mobile phone apps, public information campaigns, and street theater and songs. Civil society organizations (CSOs) also play an important role in providing pre-employment guidance, post-deployment guidance, and other interventions. Increased capacity-building and coordination among CSOs are critical impact points to ensure intervention efficacy.
In partnership with Free the Slaves, the project trains Bonded Labor Community Vigilance Committees in Uttar Pradesh to disseminate Pre-Employment Guidance through a SAFE TIPS Guide (Steps and Advice for Foreign Employment to Combat Trafficking in Persons).
Capacity-building of Bonded Labor Community Vigilance Committees includes development of advocacy action plans to identify strategies for addressing systemic drivers of risks faced by workers during their recruitment in Uttar Pradesh.
Post-Deployment Guidance: After the decision to migrate for work is made, migrant workers should have access to the knowledge and resources needed to manage any labor exploitation issues arising after arrival in the country of employment.
In partnership with Lawyers Without Borders, the project trains individuals positioned to provide guidance or assistance to foreign workers seeking to address a labor exploitation issue. Post-Deployment Guidance trainings will be provided to lawyers, legal aid project volunteers, and humanitarian aid groups situated in the Gulf States and Jordan to provide direct support to foreign workers.
Leveraging ICT Tools: The project is developing a Hindi version of the Just Good Work mobile app (www.justgood.work), created by Fifty Eight.
Just Good Work is a free mobile platform for migrant jobseekers and workers, launched in Kenya and Uganda in 2019 as a worker-led response to prevent exploitative and deceptive practices, including debt bondage, which occur in the recruitment process. It empowers users with information and advice around their legal rights and responsibilities throughout the recruitment process and post-deployment stage in countries such as Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom. It is currently available for 12 cross-border labor markets in five languages. The goal of the Verité/Fifty Eight Limited partnership is to provide Indian workers, particularly those from Uttar Pradesh, with a free and accessible version of the Just Good Work mobile app in Hindi tailored for low-wage workers seeking and obtaining employment in Gulf States and Jordan.
These projects were made possible through the generous support of the United States Department of State Bureau of Democracy Human Rights and Labor. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Department of State.