Tripartite constituents in the Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu have achieved a breakthrough in consultations to draft an Employment Relations Bill. The new Bill will replace the existing Employment Act, the Trade Disputes Act and the Trade Unions Act.
The Bill had originally been drafted in 2006 but progress had stalled over a number of issues. However, the launch of Vanuatu’s in May 2011 has created a new impetus for consultations to be revived.
From 3rd to 5th August 2011 constituents and other key stakeholders came together for a workshop in Port Vila. The ILO office for Pacific Island Countries facilitated the discussions. Paul Mackay from Business New Zealand and Ross Wilson from the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions provided mentoring assistance to their respective counterparts in the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Vanuatu Council of Trade Unions. This was an extension to the in May 2011.
Key areas of discussion during the workshop included; fundamental principles relating to workplace conditions such as maternity leave, annual leave, sick leave and 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 is a key priority in Vanuatu’s Decent Work Country Programme. Commissioner of Labour Mr Lionel Kaluat stated “it is anticipated that over the next few months the Bill will be finalised and moved forward to Parliament. This will be a significant step forward in implementing labour laws that have greater consistency with international labour standards”.
Mr Dick Eade, representing the Vanuatu employers said “the Chamber of Commerce and Industry was pleased to participate in the workshop to review the draft Employment Relations Bill. We hope that the collaborative spirit can be carried on into the future of labour relations in the country rather than lapsing into confrontation”.
Ephraim Kalsakau, Secretary General of the Vanuatu Council of Trade Unions said “the workers group acknowledge the support of our New Zealand colleagues and the ILO Pacific Office in advancing the discussion on the new Employment Relations Bill in Vanuatu. We look forward to this Bill progressing into legislation and we look forward to continuing our working relationship with the employers and the Government of Vanuatu, through the Tripartite Labour Advisory Council”.
The ILO office for Pacific Island Countries is providing technical assistance for this work within the framework of the .’ The ILO project is one of several being implemented across Asia and the Pacific under the (2010 – 2015).
For further information please contact:
Ms Anne Boyd
GJP framework for Pacific labour governance and migration
ILO Country Office for South Pacific Island Countries
Tel: +679 3313410