Teachers unions are a critical stakeholder in global teacher migration and mobility. They are uniquely positioned to promote worker justice and education quality.

They have a vital role to play in protecting and supporting migrant teachers while safeguarding the standards and status of the profession. The first and most basic obligation of the labour movement is to ensure that the labour and human rights of migrants are protected. This calls for unions to

  • Organize migrant teachers
  • Advocate for necessary regulations in keeping with core labour standards
  • Provide legal defence and conduct case work to address violations and prevent discriminatory practices
  • Offer professional development support

Survey highlights

The majority of migrant teachers lack union representation abroad. In the survey conducted for “Getting Teacher Migration and Mobility Right,” migrant teachers who were members of a union abroad cite significant benefits including bargaining and advocacy, legal defence, and professional support. However, just 31% of migrant teacher respondents were members of a union abroad. Nearly a quarter of respondents report never being asked to join the union while working overseas.   


Reasons teachers did not join a union while working abroad  Total % Total 
No union to join 215 35%
Not asked / No information 138 22%
 Not interested / did not perceive value 123  20% 
 Not eligible 54 9%
 Short term of contract 22  4%
 On fence / still considering 15  2%
 Negative impression / opposed to unions 15  2%
 Told not to 1%
 Did not want to pay dues <1%
Afraid 2 <1%
Other 22 4%