Appeal 5: Measures for Addressing Wage Theft
Affecting Millions of Migrant Workers in the Times
of COVID-19
On the 1stof June 2020, a large coalition of civil society organizations and trade unions launched
an appeal to governments to establish an “Urgent Justice Mechanism” that addresses the plight
of millions of migrant workers whose wages have been unjustly withheld by their employers.
Subsequent appeals called on the international community, especially the UN system, and the
private sector to respond with urgency to the situation, each within the remit of its
specialization, to facilitate access to justice for migrant workers and ensure compensation for
the wage theft experienced by them in the wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the issue gaining great visibility among policy makers and generating meaningful
debates and interest, little tangible progress has been made in practice to effectively diminish
the great burden on the migrant workers and the indignity they are suffering. Five months after
the initial call, as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the globe, workers continue to
return, nameless and faceless, to their countries of origin without their hard-earned wages and
Now more than ever before, we renew our call on the countries of origin and the countries of
destination to honour their commitment to respect, protect and fulfill the rights of migrant
workers, taking immediate and practical measures to remedy wage theft and to ensure justice
for affected migrant workers. For decades, wage theft has been a perennial issue for migrant
workers (regardless of status) who often lack the wherewithal to access the justice mechanism
to claim their dues; the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the scale of wage theft against
migrant workers in the context of cancelled contracts, high unemployment and forced
We urge the countries of origin and the countries of destination to make available
disaggregated data collected in the course of addressing wage theft in order to fully assess the
exacerbation of the crime in the time of COVID-19 and to guide and assist the migrant workers
in their efforts to recover their statutory dues.

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