Kiribati begins the process of reforming its labour laws

Tripartite constituents in the Pacific Island nation of Kiribati have commenced a policy process to update labour laws to better apply fundamental ILO Conventions.

Press release | Suva, Fiji | 31 October 2011

The Pacific Island nation of Kiribati has announced it is updating the country’s labour laws to better apply international labour standards, specifically as they relate to the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) eight fundamental Conventions that govern the world of work.

On 22 and 23 September 2011, tripartite constituents and other key stakeholders came together for a workshop at Parliament House in Kiribati. The key focus was to identify priority areas for reform as viewed by worker and employer organizations and to share these perspectives with the Ministry of Labour and Human Resource Development.

The ILO office for Pacific Island Countries facilitated the discussions.

The aim is to enable more effective regulation of labour matters in the contemporary
i-Kiribati economy and lead to a revision and consolidation of relevant existing laws – the Employment Ordinance 1977, Industrial Relations Code 1998 and Trade Union and Employer Organisations Act 1998.

Paul Mackay from Business New Zealand and Martin Braithwaite from the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions provided mentoring assistance to their respective counterparts in the Kiribati Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Kiribati Major Employers’ Organisation and Kiribati Trade Union Congress to assist with the development of their policy positions on labour law reform. This was an extension of the successful mentoring model piloted in Samoa in May 2011 and Breakthrough in reforming labour legislation in Vanuatu in August 2011.

Key areas of discussion during the workshop included formalising and elevating tripartite consultation mechanisms, establishing certain minimum employment entitlements applicable to all workers, further regulation to promote collective bargaining in practice, funding arrangements for maternity leave, dismissal procedures and new provisions to ensure that workers and employers have access to a simple, timely and low cost system for resolving disputes.

Labour law reform to improve the application of fundamental ILO Conventions is a key priority in the Kiribati Decent Work Country Programme. “Labour Law Reform is one of the priorities covered under the 2009-2012 Kiribati Decent Work Country Programme that has been agreed to by tripartite partners,” said Acting Director of Labour, Batetaake Taioeta. “Kiribati is party to the eight ILO fundamental conventions and recently the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 and is committed to progressively aligning its labour laws and practices with principles of such Conventions. The workshop held on labour law reform, supported with the technical assistance of ILO is a good step forward in achieving this priority.'

Worker and employer organizations were also optimistic about the move toward reforms.

“The workshop was very useful and KTUC wants to be involved and is looking forward to the next steps in the labour law reform process,” said Kanata Tebebeku, Secretary of the Kiribati Trade Union Congress Kanata Tebebeku.

There have been a lot of changes in Kiribati and we need to update our labour laws to adapt to the modern economic situation. The Employment Ordinance is very outdated,” said Kiribati Chamber of Commerce and Industry member Willie Maen. So the labour law reform workshop was very useful.”

The ILO office for Pacific Island Countries is providing technical assistance for this work within the framework of the technical cooperation project ‘Labour Governance and Migration.’ The project is one of several being implemented across Asia and the Pacific under the Australian Government–ILO Partnership Agreement (2010 – 2015). The project supports the Global Jobs Pact and contributes to the Pacific realization of the Millennium Development Goals.

For further information please contact:

Ms Anne Boyd
Project Manager
Pacific Labour Governance and Migration
ILO Country Office for South Pacific Island Countries
Tel: +679 3313410