The ILO in Tuvalu

Tuvalu was originally part of the British colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands from 1892. Formerly the Ellice Islands, it was administered together with the Gilbert Islands (now Kiribati) until 1975. Tuvalu, which means “eight islands together”, became an independent constitutional monarchy on 1 October 1978, with Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State. In 1986 Tuvalu approved a new, locally written, Constitution. Tuvalu is ranked as the fourth smallest country in the world in terms of geography.

The country is very concerned about climate change. The highest point of elevated land in Tuvalu is between four and five metres, which provides the basis to their concerns - particularly with respect to the threat of sea level rises. The fragility of the island group was underscored in 1997 when tropical cyclones Gavin and Hina and the very recent cyclone Pam caused a lot of damage to the islands.

Tuvalu became a member of the ILO in March 2008 and to date has ratified the Maritime Labour Convention or MLC which came into force in August 2013. The ILO office for Pacific Island countries continues to work closely with the tripartite constituents. The tripartite setting in Tuvalu is represented by the Government through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade, Tourism, Environment and Labour; the representative organisation of workers is the Tuvalu Seafarers Union and the representative organisation of employers is the Tuvalu National Private Sector Organization.

The ILO currently has two active projects in Tuvalu whereby technical assistance is provided in respect to labour law reform and labour migration initiatives.

The main areas of focus for the Labour Law reform work is to:
• Provide technical assistance to the Government to review the Employment Act, Industrial Relations Code and Trade Unions Act, identify priorities for labour law reform, and develop new labour legislation to better comply with the ILO’s eight Fundamental Labour Conventions.
• Awareness raising for workers and employers on roles and responsibilities when new legislation is passed.
The Main area of focus for the Labour Migration project is to:
• To improve labour migration data collection for the purpose of policymaking and increased participation of Tuvaluan workers in well-regulated labour migration schemes including seafaring and seasonal worker programs.