According to the ICRMW, destination countries are obliged to observe the right to join trade unions for any migrant and the right to form associations and trade unions for legal migrants; provide minimum social welfare (such as medical care); ensure equality of treatment in respect of remuneration and conditions of work and employment; allow documented migrants to be temporarily absent without affecting the authorization to stay or work; allow liberty of movement, of choosing the residence and access to alternative employment for legal migrants; give the right to seek alternative employment in case of termination of the remunerated activity for migrant workers not authorized to freely choose their remunerated activity; and work towards providing family reunification and extend to children of migrants the right to education.16
Ratification of the ICRMW would also mean that many countries of destination, such as GCC member States, would have to redesign their temporary labour migration schemes, which are tied to one specific employer. Yet, these countries consciously designed these temporary labour migration schemes with the intention to not let migrant workers become permanent residents. For example, GCC countries usually prefer to use the term ‘temporary contract worker’ instead of ‘migrant worker’. Similarly, many other countries of destination of migrants in Asia do not consider themselves as countries of immigration. Governments hold that if they ratified the ICRMW, this would result in a large-scale influx and eventual settlement of foreign workers.
Another major obstacle to ratification is that governments are not prepared to extend rights to irregular migrants as they are considered to be violators of immigration laws. However, ways in which the status of migrants can become irregular (at times beyond their knowledge or control) is complex.
Moreover, gaining support for the protection of migrant workers is difficult in many countries of destination, as foreign workers are often perceived by the national population as competitors in the labour market.