Caritas Europa has called on the European Union and all European governments to foster a more inclusive Europe that ensures decent working conditions for all migrant workers, including those who are undocumented.

The group’s message comes ahead of the World Day of Social Justice (February 20) and with a view to the upcoming inter-governmental negotiations on the Global Compact for Migration (GCM), which is aimed to improve the global governance of migration.

“Over the last few years, the EU and its Member States have increasingly prioritised migration control and repression to the detriment of a comprehensive labour migration policy. At Caritas, we believe migrant workers’ rights, including those of irregular migrants, should be guaranteed and enforced, because that ensures that everyone’s rights and dignity in society are fully respected,” said Shannon Pfohman, Caritas Europa’s Policy and Advocacy Director.

According to Caritas, migrant workers have become a cornerstone of our societies. They sustain our economies, particularly in basic sectors, such as agriculture and cleaning. Migrant workers make our societies more diverse and multicultural, and contribute to keeping our welfare systems healthy. While we value migrant workers for their work, we rarely ensure that their rights both as workers and human beings are guaranteed and enforced.

Migrant workers, particularly those in an irregular situation, are especially vulnerable to labour exploitation, said the group in its statement.

The GCM will be an opportunity for European governments to reaffirm and strengthen their commitment to protect the rights of all migrant workers, according to Caritas.