Dr Joseph K. Teye, Migrating Out of Poverty (MOP) Research Coordinator, has called on policy makers, institutions and agencies to see internal migration as a an important issue and give it a holistic approach.
He said migration to urban areas for these precarious jobs must not be seen as bad as it offers opportunity to poor migrants to provide useful services and also earn income to enhance the wellbeing of their families.
Dr Teye called on relevant state agencies to scale up public education on the rights of migrant domestic and construction workers and the legal instruments to regulate wages in the informal sector.
He said: “Just as we value international migration because of their economic impact on the economy, internal migrants equally contribute effectively in their sending areas”.
Dr Teye said a study revealed that in Ghana there are about 80 per cent of internal migrants and though they outnumber international migrants by a ratio of 4:1 and also have higher remittances than their counterparts abroad, less is said about them.
He was speaking at a dissemination workshop organised by Centre for Migration (CMS), University of Ghana, Legon, to highlight on a recent research conducted by MOP on “Livelihood Strategies and Wellbeing of Migrants in Low-paid and Insecure Occupations in Accra, Ghana”.
The research was carried out in two migrant sending areas – Northern and Volta Regions, and one migrant destination- Accra, to examine the experiences, livelihood strategies and wellbeing of migrants engaged in construction and domestic work in Accra.
It also examined how migrant construction and domestic workers employ their own agency to counter exploitation.
Dr Teye said MOP is a seven-year research programme consortium funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, focusing on the relationship between internal and regional migration and poverty.
The Programme, which started in 2011 is located in six regions across Asia, Africa and Europe and is being co-ordinated by the University of Sussex.
The MOP Research Coordinator said findings indicated that the decision to migrate rather than engage in locally available income generating activities relates to few jobs, low wages, and environmental disturbances at origins.
In most cases, Dr Teye said, there are no formal contracts for migrant-domestic and construction workers and salary levels are very low.
“In both sectors, men earn higher than women, because the tasks performed by women are undervalued. There are instances of exploitation for both men and women working in these sectors, but the men have a stronger agency to negotiate better conditions of work and the remuneration than female counterparts,” he added.
Dr Teye said despite the challenges and the poor conditions under, which they work, migrant domestic workers believed that migration has enhanced the wellbeing of their households.
Dr Delali Badasu, Director of CMS, said for a very long time the interest in migration issues was focused on news of tragedies and not the positive aspect of migration.
She said she was delighted to see so much interest in migration, especially the media and their representation at the workshop and called for collaboration between the academia and the media to disseminate positive aspect of migration.
She said moving to urban areas comes with certain vulnerability that needs to be disseminated and appealed to the ministries, departments and agencies and other partners to come out with policies to address the issues.
Professor Kwame Karikari, Professor at the School of Communication Studies, commended the Centre for its efforts to bring out the good aspect of migration, especially on domestic and construction workers.
He urged them to involve the Trades Union Congress, in their dissemination workshops so that they could lobby and negotiate on behalf of their members.
He appealed to policy and decision makers to standardise things like health insurance for these categories of workers.
“We can’t do anything but those that we can do we must lobby government to have them,” he said.