Report on PSI Health Migration Workshop: “Building Union Solidarity and Protection for Workers on the Move,” Durban 2012

SVdarkREPORT: Highlights of the 2012 Public Service International Health Migration Seminar-Workshop

“Building Union Solidarity and Protection for Workers on the Move”

Durban, South Africa, November 22-23, 2012

 by Salimah Valiani, PhD

Economist, Policy Analyst

Ontario Nurses’ Association

December 11, 2012

Public Service International (PSI) is the global public sector union federation bringing together more than 20 million workers of 650 unions, in 148 countries and territories. As stated in the PSI website, two-thirds of PSI members are women, working in social services, health care, municipal and community services, central government, and public utilities such as water and electricity.[1]

PSI holds its World Congress, or convention, every five years. This year marked PSI’s 29th World Congress, which was held in Durban, South Africa. I was invited to present analysis and action recommendations on the global integration of nursing labour markets at a pre-Congress event on health labour migration entitled “Building Union Solidarity and Protection for Workers on the Move.”[2] This seminar/workshop was organized by the PSI Migration and Health and Social Care Workers’ Programme, and was aimed at showcasing recent research completed in the Programme as well as finalizing its action plan for the 2013-2017 period. 

This report features highlights of the seminar-workshop, held November 22-23. The pre-Congress events were followed by the PSI World Congress (November 27-30).

Peter Waldorf, PSI General Secretary

  • The United Nations will hold a High Level Dialogue on Migration in 2013 – the second one following the first in 2007.
  • 37 affiliated unions from 20 different countries are involved in PSI’s Global Programme on International Migration and Women Health and Social Care Workers.
  • The Programme’s latest project is the “PSI Mapping and Participatory Research on Migration in the Health and Social Care Sectors.”[3]

Jane Pillinger, PhD, PSI Research Consultant

  • The research project involved over 1000 interviews by health union activists with migrant health workers, government officials and civil servants in Ghana, Philippines, Kenya, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the USA and Australia.
  • Among the countries studied, South Africa and Ghana had the highest levels of union density in the health sector, with South Africa at 40 per cent, and Ghana at 68 per cent.
  • Key to the strength of health workers’ unions in South Africa and Ghana is the cross-union, cross-occupational cooperation in the health sector. More specifically, the Agreement for Occupation Specific Bargaining (2007) in South Africa has allowed for increased wages for health workers, and in turn, decreased emigration. In Ghana, the 2006 Health Sector Salary Structure has achieved the same ends.

Jennifer Owyer, Kenya Local Government Employees Union

  • For the 38 million population of Kenya, 80,000 health workers are required to serve the population. Currently in Kenya there are only 28,000 health workers.
  •  The retirement age for nurses in Kenya has been increased to 60 to try and retain nurses in the Kenya health labour force as increasing numbers of young nurses emigrate.

Rosa Pavanelli, FPCGIL (Italy) and newly elected General Secretary of PSI

  • The European public sector union federation (EPSU) and the European Hospital and Healthcare Employers Association have been collaborating on a Code of Conduct for Ethical Cross-Border Recruitment in the health sector. The Code consists of 12 principles (ex. freedom of association for migrant health workers, fair and transparent contracts).
  • Given current austerity policies, this approach is no longer viable as governments are in the process of cutting the public sector workers, including those who would regulate around the Code of Conduct.
  • Nevertheless, in Italy, FPCGIL has used the 12 principles to review collective bargaining demands and assure that the union is negotiating the correct articles in collective agreements to protect migrant health workers’ rights.

Jillian Roque, Public Services Labour Independent Confederation – PSLINK (Philippines)

  • Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) on labour are another means of assuring ethical recruitment of health workers. The Philippines-Bahrain MOU on labour includes clauses assuring equal treatment of Filipino health workers employed in Bahrain, and a commitment by Bahrain to invest in the upgrading of health facilities and training institutes in the Philippines.

Abu Kuntolo, Health Service Workers’ Union (Ghana)

  • Health sector unions in Ghana, including the Ghana Registered Nurses’ Association, and unions representing physicians and other health workers collaborate through a unified salary structure. This salary structure is the product of much effort over the years, and together these unions meet with government to negotiate the spending of public funds in the health system.
  • One of the impacts of the unified salary structure is increasing wages for nurses and midwives. This has fed into a falling rate of attrition of nurses and midwives, from 38 per cent to 12 per cent in the past five years.

Perpetual Ofori-Ampofo, Health Service Workers’ Union (Ghana)

  • Health workers unions in Ghana are currently lobbying government around measures to reintegrate migrant health workers when they return to Ghana. The unions are also considering their role in reintegrating migrant health workers. This is crucial given the rising levels of temporary migration by health workers (i.e. on the basis of temporary work permits).
  • The Ministry of the Interior in Ghana is now developing a national migration policy.

 Annie Geron, Public Services Labour Independent Confederation – PSLINK (Philippines)

  • Ten mothers die giving birth daily in the Philippines. This is one of the effects of nurse emigration and the shortage of nurses in the Philippines health system.
  •  The International Labour Organization and European Union have initiated the Decent Work Across Borders Project. PSLINK is involved and the focus for the Philippines component of the project is nurse emigration.

Shirley Lee, New South Wales Nurses’ Association (Australia)

  • There are 56,000 members in the union, including 3,929 migrant nurses from 129 countries.
  • Fiji, Samoa, the Philippines, and African countries are some of the large sources of migrant nurses employed in Australia.
  • The union held a symposium on migrant nurses in October 2011.
  • The key issues arising for migrant nurses in New South Wales are the lack of information prior to emigrating, lack of support upon arrival in New South Wales, lack of recognition of prior learning and experience, the cost of bridging programs and registration, the cost of work visas, and the cost of living given that most migrant nurses are not earning wages equal to those of locally-based nurses.


[2] My presentation was based on my new book, Rethinking Unequal Exchange: the global integration of nursing labour markets (University of Toronto Press: 2012). For a copy of the presentation, “Temporary Migration and the Global Integration of Nursing Labour Markets: Analysis and Proposals for Action”, contact me at


Photos of Book Tour July 2012: Spain, Austria, South Africa


Book Tour in Africa: July 2012!

OTTAWA Book Launch: Monday May 14, 7pm

NEW Book! Toronto Launch April 24, 2012:


Dedicated today to the OCCUPY Bay Street Activists, Toronto






For the Eastern Ghats

 In these hills

there is stupendous green

tamarind trees


wild grasses


In these hills

there is inspiration

a wide sky

spontaneous waterfalls

heat soft to the skin


In these hills

there are villages

‘two houses or more make a village’

the British law said

(for the purpose of collecting revenue)


In these hills

there are steps of growth

from pulses to banana trees

twenty food varieties

made possible by rich soil

and small canals branching waterfalls


In these hills

there are some train tracks

some roads

state tourism plans


attempted mines


In these hills

there are people

who’ve lived with these hills

from heights of time

before the revenue-villages of the British.

They are still living here

Let them live.


From breathing for breadth, by Salimah Valiani (TSAR: 2005)

Photo by Salimah Valiani

Brother-Comrade Muammar Qaddafi addresses the world, August 2011


From the international liaison office of the Green Committees Movement

Oppressed peoples around the world, the battle has begun. Do not despair, help is nigh. Do you realize that this is the Night of Power? What is the Night of Power? It is better than thousands of other nights, it is the destiny, when the heavens are open to receive your prayers thousands fold.

Watch what is happening now in America. Did we hit them with our missiles? No, they came and struck us, 64 hits on Bab Al-Aziziya which is now destroyed, and finally I had to leave my home, where they killed many innocents. But I will never leave Libya and in this fight, it is either victory or death.

Those of you in the United States of America, I am not your leader. If you are in that failed state you should be preparing to leave. Go to Venezuela. If you remain, you must follow my deputy, spiritual leader Minister Louis Farrakhan. Listen to him. He will tell you all you need to know about what is unfolding.

Those of you in Europe, you too should prepare to be drowned in events and calumny. Not enough of you have risen up. You will have to accept the consequences. The good among you should head to Africa. Go to West Africa. North Africa is not safe now that the region is all a battle field. In West Africa you will find homes and good work.

Those of you in Serbia, true friends of Libya, you are with me. Do not despair of the rat flag on only one house out of one million. All of you can cut pieces of green cloth, measured exactly two by one in dimension; that is your flag, the flag of people’s power, of hope, of truth, of the future. 

All you in the world who support truth, freedom, Jamahiriya, hang it on millions of homes and cars. The green flag is yours and belongs to all the masses of the world. With the dawn of people’s authority and the end of governments, we chose the green flag and made its colour and dimension easy for all. Choose any green. Cut it one by two, exactly, and hang it everywhere, carry it with you. 

Soon the green flag will fly all over the world, as governments collapse. They failed their people; I alone did more than all of them. They served different masters. They did not intend to serve the people, never. They are owned by others. They do nothing for you. Ignore them and they are gone. Prepare yourselves by forming committees, openly or in secret, set up your local mathabas to meet and share. Chart the way forward. The green flag belongs to you all. 

The future is the Jamahiriya, everywhere. The masses self-governing societies. Basic popular congresses and people’s committees. Green committees to guide, defend, expose, call, show the way forward to people’s power. It’s all there in The Green Book, read it, copy it, share it. Use your own communication systems, don’t rely on the enemy. Make your own communications. Take back your resources to your hands, do not be afraid of power – possess it. It is your power, wealth and arms that the governments, banks and militaries stole from you.

You cannot ask others to represent you. You cannot entrust thieves with your wealth. You cannot ask others to fight and die on your behalf, to defend you. This is your human responsibility. When you do this, the world will be free, organized, a jamahiri system, freedom and happiness, abundance of wealth for all.

The era of the governments is coming to an end and they are fighting their last gasp. They are desperate. But they are bankrupt, not only financially speaking, they are bankrupt in morals, religion, education, intellect, ideas, they have no way forward. They are on the stage of collapse. That collapse is good for the world peoples who are suffering because they are not free.

O all good people of the world, know that Islam is not what is being put to you by the ignorant who make a public show of prayer but in reality are serving the devil. Islam is submission to the will of Allah, the One God of all humanity. This is the night of prayer. Your prayers are being answered. You are the Muslims, all those who pray and do not associate partners with Allah.

People of Bosnia, many of you are misguided, Arabs, the useless and weak. The people of Serbia who are Christians and others would be closer to God. There is only one God. That God is with the truth wherever it is found. Read the Qur’an to know the truth, do not listen to those who would mislead you. If God is with you, who can be against you? 

What Sharia are you looking for other than the one which we have, since I was the first to bring Quran as the Law of Society in the Jamahiriya. Is it the Sharia of injustice? Oppression? Cowardice? Murder? Insanity? Drugs? Is it the Sharia that elevates the rat with his gun that allows torture, rape and theft? No! That is not the Sharia, ignoring all that is in the Qur’an.

Prayers are being answered. More than forty armies have gone against me, only because I spoke the truth, because I would not let the thieves pass me into Africa. I have promised Africa I will not betray you. I promise the world, the millions who have me in your hearts, that I am fighting to the finish.

Do not believe their trumpets. Whoever listens to the trumpets is making a mistake. You have your own mathabas to go to for information and to meet and deliberate. Pay no heed to them. By now this should be clear to you. Fire is water, water is fire. Know that the future is yours, governments are finished, a new era of the masses is coming, as predicted in The Green Book.

I hear you. Many of your messages reach to me. I cannot answer you individually but I feel your pain. Some of you were so affected by the lies in the recent days that you even contemplated suicide. No! Never. Suicide is not an option when we are in front of great victory. The costs will be high but we must not waver.

I see you Africans around the world, even in Australia, your pictures reach me. I see you collecting money to help East Africa. It is the whites who brought these problems and cut us off from helping our brothers and sisters. Thank you for your prayers. But keep your money. Instead use it to fight those oppressors.

Form among you green committees, meet in secret or in open. Proclaim your allegiance to the Green Charter. Study The Green Book. Register your people’s conferences, provide encouragement to others around the world, prepare for a future world congress on crimes against humanity, you have six months to prepare.

March next year can be the biggest congress of the people, you can make it happen. Prepare already. Make a web site so all the crimes can be registered. While we fight to defend our nation, you fight on the battle field of truth, for the pen is mightier than the sword.

Some of you arrived to our western border, but had to return. You have families to take care of. Now the way is clear, but NATO will not allow for peace. They fear the example of the Great Jamahiriya. They can destroy our physical achievements but they cannot destroy the truth. The more they try the more we will be victorious. Victory is with the people, never with the oppressors.

Thousands of you are waiting at various stations. I see you in Tanzania, in Congo, Ghana, Nigeria, and many other parts of Africa. How will you cross the deserts to Libya? Instead group yourselves where you are. The fight if it is not won in Libya will be coming to you. Prepare for it. Prepare traps for the invaders. You must defend your corners.

African governments are not strong. They control only a few centers of cities. They often provide no services and the people live without them. They will not stand in your way when the time comes. They are poor. They have been robbed by the racists, the colonialists, the white thieves from the north. Oppose them only if they oppose you. Be prepared. Build your mathaba. Defend your continent.

They can attack with their bombs, but we defend with truth. They can never fight us man to man. They are only cowards, sick, demented, hiding behind machines. They can never face the African one to one. African children can defeat any white mercenary – that is why they hide and destroy with hatred from far.

Do not let them use you. Be united. Build your defenses for they are coming if they manage to pass Libya. If they destroy Libya then attack them from behind.

Avoid fighting if you can. The enemy wishes us all to be bogged down on their battlefields; they want to engage us all in war. Afghanistan is now with us, Iraq is with us, Venezuela is with us. We want peace. We want justice. Work for conferences on crimes against humanity, use your mathaba networks, the mathaba is the headquarters of the green committees, go forth, victory is ours!

Muammar Qaddafi

   August 2011