Commemorating the International Labour Organisations 100th anniversary, Port Moresby hosted the ILOs Director General Guy Ryder.
Papua New Guinea’s Minister responsible for Labour and Industrial Relations, Alfred Manase, while speaking at the forum pointed out the reality PNG faces as a developing nation.
“With youth unemployment very high, seasonal work although is not an alternate to job creation, it provides cushioning in the interim and the remittance, and the people to people connection is beneficial to both the region and the countries involved, including Papua New Guinea.”
A year after gaining its independence, the largest Pacific island nation with the biggest landmass and population – Papua New Guinea, became a member of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in 1976. Why was this important? It set the foundation for a young independent state to be part of an international governing body that focused on the improvement of labour conditions through social and economic progress.
43 years later, and Papua New Guinea is part of the organisation’s celebration of its 100 years since establishment, by having ILO’s Director General in the country – not only is this a first for Papua New Guinea, but it’s also the first time a Director General from ILO has made a visit to an island nation in the Pacific.
ILO is the only United Nation’s governing body that is a tripartite – an organisation comprising of three main parties that include representatives from governments, employers and the workers – covering the concept of tripartism.
“When these three keys turn together, when governments, employers and workers are able to come together, doors open and social justice advances.” ILO Director General, Guy Ryder stated.
Papua New Guinea’s engagement with ILO since 1976 has seen a steady partnership in the development process of the country, having provided support in the area of labour law reforms, institutional reforms and organisations of the functions of the Ministry of Labour and Industrial Relations, and employment creation.
To commemorate this centenary, member nation, Papua New Guinea is playing host to the 10 ILO member states from the Pacific: Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu – all who are at the battle front line of the global warming, which is the focus of this high level forum on climate change and decent work.
Raising the issue of being overshadowed by other south-east nations, Minister Manase asked for the Pacific to have a separate platform to raise their voice.
“We don’t want to be heard together with big Asia – we want to be on our own… We have created a platform for that conversation to start happening, Director General. We want to be heard. And in the course of that, we have elected Fiji to provide the leadership for us with Kiribati and Samoa…that’s the way we want to go in our interactions with ILO.”
“That’s the way we see that our conversations on climate change, our conversations on the informal sector, our conversations on the tripartite system, we want to pursue it through this forum and option.”
ILO’s work in PNG is managed by the ILO Office for Pacific Island Countries in Fiji.