Employment policy

Priorities for effective employment and wage policies discussed in Kiribati

Consultative workshop enhances the capacity to better understand the requirements for the design and development of effective policies.

Press release | Tarawa, Kiribati | 27 September 2023
Group discussion during the formulation of a National Employment Policy (NEP) and effective wage-setting policies for Kiribati workshop, Kiribati, 26-27 September 2023, Tarawa, Kiribati. © ILO
TARAWA, Kiribati (ILO News) – The formulation of a National Employment Policy (NEP) and effective wage-setting policies for Kiribati were the focus of discussions held by senior representatives from the government, trade unions, employers, and civil society from 26 to 27 September 2023.

The event provided a crucial platform for examining policy priorities and addressing multidimensional challenges within the labour market landscape. It featured both in-person and virtual participation of experts, under the lead of Xavier Estupinan, ILO’s Regional Wage Specialist.

The 22 participants representing diverse sectors within Kiribati, gained practical insights into the development of these policies, taking into account the unique post-COVID-19 recovery landscape, the digital and green transformations, and other contemporary workforce dynamics.

During the opening session, the Secretary of the Ministry of Employment and Human Resources, Honourable Terengaiti Awerika said, “Such workshops and training provide an important opportunity for all stakeholders to be included in the drafting of national employment policies which cover important areas such as minimum wage and labour mobility discussions in Kiribati.”

She added that, “These policies also will be important for our growing overseas labour mobility scheme for Australia and New Zealand, ensuring domestic skilled labour market forces are sustainable and having decent work components that may incentivize I-Kiribati workers to stay and work in the country and not look for better opportunities overseas.”

Jaap van Hierden, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Micronesia, emphasized the importance of the topics covered by the workshop and highlighted the alignment of this workshop with the recently adopted United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework for the Pacific. He expressed his satisfaction with the collaboration between the ILO and the Government of Kiribati in organizing the workshop.

Christian Viegelahn, Officer-in-Charge of the ILO Office for Pacific Island Countries, emphasized the workshop's important role as the inception stage for the development of an NEP for Kiribati as well as a forum to address key wage issues in Kiribati and the broader region. After the workshop, collaborative efforts with stakeholders will continue to further develop policies and make progress towards validation and the creation of an implementation plan, tailored to Kiribati's specific needs.

The workshop covered, amongst others, a description of key characteristics of a successful policy process to develop an effective, coherent and consistent NEP, an overview of the labour market situation in Kiribati, and key issues, challenges and opportunities of labour mobility. Moreover, there were sessions on the fundamental aspects of minimum wage systems that take into account the needs of the workers and their families, economic factors to set adequate minimum wages, and the role of collective bargaining for addressing wage negotiations at higher levels than the minimum wage.

The event was organized by the ILO Office for Pacific Island Countries, in collaboration with the Government of Kiribati, and funded by the SDG fund through the Joint UN Programme on “Accelerating SDG achievement through digital transformation to strengthen community resilience in Micronesia”.

Group photo of the workshop, Tarawa, Kiribati. © ILO

For further information please contact:

Sonja Aholelei
ILO Office for Pacific Island Countries
Email: aholelei@ilo.org