Pacific challenged by ILO

The Pacific has been called on by the International Labour Organization to give attention to international labour standards.

The Director-General of the ILO made this call during his recent first-ever visit to Port Moresby, which is also a first for the Pacific.

The Director-General of the International Labour Organization, Guy Ryder, whilst addressing tripartite delegates gathered at the high level forum on climate change and decent work, highlighted areas that needed attention.

“If we look at the record of cooperation between the ILO and your countries, we learn very quickly that the Pacific is perhaps the youngest area of membership of the International Labour Organization,” said Ryder. “Our relationship began 45 years ago when Fiji was the first member state in this region to join the International Labour Organization. PNG followed just two years later.

“But the fact of the matter is, that eight of our 11 member states in the Pacific have joined the organisation since 2000. So in the longer scheme of things, our partnership, our relationship, is a young one that is also reflected in the fact – let me say it to you very clearly – that your member states have not ratified a large number of International Labour Conventions.

“I put that down – not to a lack of commitment – but to the fact that your membership is relatively new and these things take a certain amount of time but I do want to call attention to the need to give attention to international labour standards.

“We are developing with member states in the region decent work country programs – these are the framework programs for our cooperation. They are in place here in Papua New Guinea and in Samoa, and I think they will come into place in the Cook Islands and Kiribati very shortly.”

Ryder further said he has heard the call of the member states to rethink the way they interact – where not only their voices can be raised but also heard, and having been heard, to be acted upon.

The International Labour Organization is the United Nations agency for the world of work. Devoted to advancing social justice, it promotes a Decent Work Agenda based on four strategic pillars: rights at work, decent employment opportunities, social protection and social dialogue.

(Director-General of the International Labour Organization, Guy Ryder, speaking in Port Moresby)

Carmella Gware