No voice for workers at Pacific Islands labour meeting

23 August 2016

The South Pacific Council of Trade Unions (SPOCTU) and Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA are concerned about the lack of worker representation at the inaugural Pacific Labour Mobility Annual Meeting, being held alongside the PACER-plus Ministerial meeting in Christchurch this week. Read their media release here.
An expansion of the seasonal worker programs for Pacific Islanders to work Australia and New Zealand is cited as one of the benefits of the PACER-plus trade deal for the Pacific. In fact this is an illusion because despite the programs occurring “alongside” the trade deal, they are not in the text and are proceeding regardless of whether a trade deal is agreed.
While seasonal worker programs do have the potential to bring benefits to Pacific Island workers, these benefits will not be realised without strong enforcement of their rights to prevent exploitation. Media reports have revealed some Pacific Island workers on seasonal work visas have been paid less than the minimum wage.
AFTINET shares the concern that Pacific Island workers are not represented by unions at the labour meeting this week, and calls for their involvement to ensure that workers’ rights are enforced in both current and future labour mobility programs.

Click here to view media coverage on the ABC's Pacific Beat.