Labour law

Pacific Island officials empowered to support labour law reform

Training supported by Australia helps strengthen capacity to ensure national legislation complies with international labour standards.

News | 13 November 2023
Group photo during the training in Nadi, Fiji. © ILO
NADI, Fiji (ILO News) – Government officials of seven Pacific Island nations have gained a deeper knowledge of international labour standards that will help them as they support labour law reform in their countries.

Training held by the ILO Country Office for Pacific Island Countries, on 7-8 November 2023, in Nadi, Fiji saw officials from the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu acquire the skills they need to evaluate existing national legislation to ensure that it complies with ILO standards.

“Almost all Pacific Island governments face challenges in aligning their national labour law with ratified ILO Conventions and realizing the fundamental principles and rights at work,” said Anna Olsen, ILO’s Decent Work and International Labour Standards Specialist.

“National legal reform and implementation are strengthened when officials have a clear understanding of international labour standards. This workshop has helped equip the government officials with the skills necessary to bridge these knowledge gaps. It will strengthen future labour law reform efforts, which in turn, can foster a more inclusive and sustainable labour market,” she added.

Elizabeth Hosking, Chief Labour Inspector, Labour and Consumer Division, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Cook Islands, highlighted the how important the workshop had been.

“I spent most of the workshop mentally rewriting our labour laws,” she said.

Meanwhile, Vani Doge-Raravula, Senior Labour Officer - Legal, Ministry of Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, Fiji, also benefitted from the training, explaining: "I was intrigued by the labour law review and drafting. I learned about the ILO definition of a worker under the Employment Relationship Recommendation, 2006 (No. 198), and I also now understand the role of the tripartite partners and the reasons for social dialogue."

A number of Pacific Island countries have industrial relations systems with historical roots in legal frameworks implemented by colonial administrations that do not include protections expressed in international labour standards. Countries participating in the workshop are all engaged in the process of modernizing their labour laws, considering legislative compliance with ILO standards.

The training took place under the Promoting the Implementation of ILO Standards in Pacific Island Countries, (PILS Project) made possible through the support of the Australian Government through the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations.