All 25 La Strada International member organisations follow the national safety restrictions related to the Coronavirus (Covid-19), while trying to ensure that services can continue and that trafficked persons receive adequate assistance and information. Shelters run by our members remain open but have become less accessible and assistance is reduced to a minimum. Much effort is taken to keep up protection standards to avoid virus infections, while consultations are now offered online. Helplines receive many questions from migrant workers who have lost their jobs and housing due to the restrictions and many have difficulties to access solidarity services (for food, daily shelter, etc…). Many are not insured for this lack of income and will have to find a way to survive.
They also call for correct information, stating that their employers do not inform them sufficiently. Several workers reported that they have been forced to continue to work despite being sick. We receive signals that the preventive measures are not applied equally to them by employers. Our members see that the current situation is especially problematic for various vulnerable groups and advocate especially now for the improvement of the position of vulnerable workers and ensure that vulnerable groups receive relevant information, see for example the statement by our member organisation Anti-Slavery in the UK and information provided to vulnerable workers by our members Comensha and FairWork in the Netherlands, together with Dutch trade union FNV, as well as by MRCI in Ireland
Several NGO partners in the field raised over the last few days concerns about the vulnerable position of undocumented workers. PICUM raised its concern with a statement about the position of undocumented workers. TAMPEP launched a statement of recommendations to National Governments and is collecting information on the consequences of the situation for migrant sex workers across the region. Also ICRSE published a separate statement to raise concern about the vulnerable position of sex workers.
To raise attention about the alarming situation in the Greek refugee camp Moria in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic, around 10,000 health professionals are calling upon European governments to take action.
Furthermore, EFFAT, the European Federation of Food Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions have sent a letter to the European Commission about agrifood workers including among others, a recommendation to regularise undocumented workers. ITUC’s Global COVID-19 Survey shows devastating impacts of pandemic on working people and that the early responses of many governments have been inadequate to protect working people and their families.
Also governmental actors have raised concern. The ILO urged for three key measures: to protect workers in the workplace, stimulate the economy and employment, and support jobs and incomes. The Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) is undertaking a rapid research exercise on the impact of responses to the Coronavirus with respect to people’s fundamental rights – such as freedom of movement and assembly. The report looks at the actions of governments and administrations, and also at the impact that the outbreak has had – particularly in its early phase – on instances of discrimination and hate speech. The research covers all EU Member States, and the results will be issued as a short FRA focus report in the 2nd week of April 2020.