Cooks Islands, Kiribati Looking To Improve Labor Relations

Government of the Cook Islands
Rarotonga, Cook Islands

June 9, 2016

Furthering labour relations between the two Pacific Island nations was the focus of bilateral discussions between the Cook Islands and Kiribati governments on June 6.

Central to the discussions was the proposed Manihiki Pearl Divers Initiative Scheme that is currently being developed between the Manihiki pearl farmers, the Ministry of Marine Resources and the Kiribati Government.

“We were able to continue the discussions initiated by the Ministry of Marine Resources regarding this labour initiative and in particular the necessary protections for workers as well as the benefits to the Manihiki pearl farmers," said secretary of Internal Affairs, Bredina Drollet. Kiribati took the opportunity to outline several training initiatives delivered in Kiribati relating to the hospitality industry.

The Cook Islands noted that with shortages in the tourism sector there may be potential for further discussions with industry partners in this area. The bilateral discussions also considered the presence of Pacific Island countries at the International Labour Conference and the potential for greater within region discussions in the lead up, and during, the conference in future years to enable a stronger unified voice for the Pacific Small Island States.

This idea will be explored further with Pacific Island countries who are also ILO member states. Present at the bilateral discussions from the Kiribati government were the Minister for Labour Ruateki Tekaiara, Secretary of Labour Taare Aukitino and Labour Director Batetaake Tatoa who met with the Cook Islands Secretary of Internal Affairs Bredina Drollet and Dr Nathalie Rossette-Cazel representing the Cook Islands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“It has also been good to meet up with our other Pacific Island neighbours attending the conference such as Tonga, Kiribati and Papua New Guinea. Amendments to the Maritime Labour Convention are also proposed which is of interest for the Cook Islands.”

The delegation comprises Rangi Tairi, vice-president of the Cook Island Workers Association, Mike Pynenburg, executive member of the Cook Islands Chamber of Commerce, and Dr Nathalie Rossette-Cazel representing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration. The two-week conference ends on June 10.

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