Kiribati Trade Union Congress (KTUC) Annual general meeting

Speech by on behalf of Mr Satoshi Sasaki, OIC, ILO Office for the Pacific Island Countries

Statement | Fiji Islands | 31 October 2016

Mauri.

Today marks a significant event for workers in Kiribati, as I understand, after a long time, an Annual General Meeting (AGM) has been called. I am pleased to be here for this workshop and to bear witness for the election of new office bearers of KTUC, who will lead the agenda of workers in Kiribati.

While I understand that KTUC has faced many operational challenges, including the absence of a physical office and weakening of some affiliate unions, I extend my admiration and gratitude to individuals who have continued to keep KTUC above water

Since Kiribati joined the ILO in 2000, we have continued to build the capacity of workers, through training, technical advice, materials etc so they are able to engage in social dialogue with government and employers to promote decent work for all in Kiribati.

The legal climate and commitment by government, for good employment relations and labour market functioning, has never been better in Kiribati.

·        Late last year, the President of Kiribati ascended the 2015 OSH and 2015 Employment & Industrial Relations Code Act. Both acts comply with ILO conventions and modernises labour practices to respond to the changing labour market in Kiribati

  • The OSH act ensures that workers have safe working environment and employers get maximum productivity and revenue by establishing effective health & safety work place policies and practices. For this first time, a labour inspectorate and Registrar of Industrial Relations will be established.
  • The Employment & Industrial Relations Code Act establishes a fair process for both employers and employees in terms of collective bargaining, minimum wage setting, employment relations, payment of wages, working hours, termination, etc.
  •  The Employment & Industrial Relations Act 2015 also, legally establishes, for the first time, a national tripartite body -  Decent Work Advisory Board (DWAB), that includes representatives of government, employers and workers.
  • This is very important for the KTUC and workers to note, as this provides the legal avenue to discuss and voice your urgent concerns at national level, should they not be resolved at enterprise level. I therefore encourage the KTUC and workers to proactively work with employers and government, through the DWAB to promote Decent Work for all Kiribati workers.
  • For the first time Cabinet has also passed the minimum wage order, which puts the minimum wage rate for private sector to A$1.30 per hour and overuses contractors to A$3.00 per hour.

Next month, the labour & OSH inspectors will undergo basic training organised by the ILO in collaboration with the New Zealand Government (WorkSafe NZ) and the ILO’s International Training Center (ITC). This will provide them with the fundamental skills and knowledge to manage and conduct work place inspections to ensure compliance with the new OSH laws.

Early next year, the ILO will provided technical support for the drafting of the regulations for the implementation of both new laws.

Specifically for the workers, we have been discussing with your current KTUC executives on your priorities and have a draft work plan in place. I hope to discuss this with your new executives later this afternoon and finalise the work plan before I leave Kiribati.

The ILO plans to develop the 2nd Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP) for Kiribati starting next year. This DWCP will form the basis of ILO technical assistance to our constituents and therefore, critical that you participate in the consultations, development and implementation of the DWCP.

This DWCP will be aligned to the national development plan, regional plans and the 2030 sustainable development goals, thus ensuring that your contributions, the workers of Kiribati, is also having a national, regional and global impact.

I look forward to the results of your AGM and encourage you to choose leaders that will further your aspirations and your rights to archive decent work. Your leaders you choose today, will represent you at the DWAB and ILO engagements. Therefore, I encourage you to choose your leaders that will be able to represent and articulate your aspirations at national, regional and international forums so that it will being about social and economic prosperity of you, your families and the country.

My office, with the support of the ILO Workers Specialist based in the ILO Regional Office, will continue to support the KTUC through your new executives and the DWAB.

Thank you for inviting the ILO to your AGM and I wish you well in the elections process and the new executives all the best.

Ko Rabwa.