Panel #1: Irregular migration and regular pathways

Statement held in Geneva, 12-13 October 2017.

Issue Brief # 6 commendably stresses the prerogative of states to determine conditions for entry and stay for foreign nationals and distinguishes clearly between the highly challenging irregular migration and the overall beneficial regular migration. That must be recognized as fundamental for the drafting of the Global Migration Compact.

National immigration legislation should be developed in a way that allows for legal entry and stay for migrant workers who are in real demand in the domestic labour market, in accordance with rules and legislation on general working conditions, wage levels and security measures. Labour migration that leads to social dumping must be avoided. We have an obligation to ensure that migrant workers are not exploited and that domestic workers are not out-manoeuvred by migrant workers.

Protection of migrant workers goes hand in hand with efforts to create a well-functioning labour market, based on recognized standards for all workers. Penal sanctions should be applied for employers who employ workers without work permit, as well as for employers who deny migrant workers equal pay and adequate working conditions. Wages and working conditions should regularly be inspected by competent authority.

In the case of Norway, no general minimum wage applies. As a main rule, wages are subject to collective agreements between employers and employees of different sectors, or individual agreements between the employer and the employee. Nevertheless, through the system of general application of collective agreements, mandatory minimum wages apply in certain sectors.

The Immigration Act explicitly states that permits to work must require that “pay and working conditions are not inferior to those prescribed by the current collective agreement or pay scale for the industry concerned. If no such collective agreement or pay scale exists, pay and working conditions shall not be inferior to what is normal for the place and occupation concerned.” Violations will be sanctioned.

To prevent violations we need strong and effective labour inspection services in close cooperation with the immigrations authorities and the police. We agree with the recommendation of the Issue Brief to strengthen these services.