Tonga Joins International Labour Organization

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Despite Trade Union Act 1964, no formal union exist

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, March 7, 2016) – Tonga is looking to lift labour standards by becoming the 187th member of the International Labour Organization (ILO) this year, effective from 24 February 2016.

Tonga already has a Trade Union Act 1964 enabling the forming of a union, however there are no formalised trade unions established. There are however organisations that act as a de facto unions such as the Public Servants Association for public servants and the Friendly Islands Teacher’s Association (FITA) for teachers.

By joining the ILO, the Tongan government stated on March 3, that it "is indicating its commitment to decent work principles and the progress realization of international labour standards."

Since joining the ILO, the government has not approved or implemented any ILO Conventions. Consultation will be undertaken with key stakeholders prior to approving or implementing any agreements.

The ILO was founded in 1919 and became the first specialised agency of the United Nations in 1946. It aims to promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, enhance social protection and strengthen dialogue on work-related issues.

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