Cook Islands gains benefits from joining ILO
The Cook Islands has become the 186th member of the International Labour Organisation after a vote in Geneva this month.
The Cook Islands have become the 186th member of the International Labour Organisation after a vote in Geneva this month.
The Cook Islands Workers Association president Anthony Turua says it is a milestone for his people, after the 20 years of campaigning by his association.
Mr Turua told Koro Vaka'uta the benefits will be immense.
ANTHONY TURUA: Some of our legislation in terms of labour in terms of the health and safety in terms of mediation in terms of capacity building for both the employee and employers. And not forgetting the government we will certainly get some assistance from them regarding the restructuring of some our labour laws. Or any laws that has an infringement with the ILO employees and employers. So when there are any sort of conference or capacity building workshops for ILO in the Pacific region, we don't get to attend because we are not a member. So you know these are some of the opportunities and benefits that we will get from ILO.
KORO VAKAUTA: With this membership what do you hope can change or improve now that you have got the support if you like or backing of the ILO?
AT: I think the changes would be the compliance with the eight core conventions of the ILO you are looking at the freedom of association, the health and safety issue, the use of child labour. Some of the social responsibility for government for the people the workers. And not just us workers but also the employers. So there are huge potential that we will receive from ILO. And also of course in resources and technical assistance.
KV: You have had concerns in the past about minimum wage and having it at a workable level. ILO membership does that help in those sorts of issues or situations as well?
AT: It certainly will, they have got some minimum standards that we can actually utilise. There is a benchmark for what is terminology of a living standard or what is appropriate for a minimum wage that will cater for our standards. So there are a lot of research that are readily available at the ILO. So we could actually request for their assistance to come to the Cook Islands to give us some sort of advisory and some guidelines of what is affordable minimum wage here in the Cook Islands. Some of the concerns that we have is the health and safety issue. Our legislation is outdated and we need to just rehash that and to bring it up to the current standard.
KV: So all in all a great day for workers around the Cook Islands?
AT: Yes its a milestone its a great achievement and I think one of the other issue that I, we have got a lot of foreign workers here now and we have never had so many foreign workers here since the last ten years. So a lot of our workers rights and entitlements need to be upgraded so that we meet the core compliance of ILO. And a warning to some of our employers who are mistreating that hey we are now members there could be consequences if you don't comply your business will be compromised.
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