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‘Outcomes document on the 2023 PLMAM reflects significant progress and collaboration’

PORT VILA, Vanuatu – The 2023 Pacific Labour Mobility Annual Meeting (PLMAM), held in Port Vila, Vanuatu, from 20-24 November 2023, marked a milestone in the cooperative efforts of Pacific labour mobility stakeholders, resulting in a comprehensive Outcomes Document that outlines crucial decisions and initiatives for the region.

Government officials from Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Timor Leste, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu participated in the five-day proceedings. Additionally, attendees included labour mobility workers, Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) and Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) schemes employers, industry representatives, trade unions, private sector, academia, civil society, and representatives from regional and international organisations.

Key highlights from the Outcome Document include:

1. PLMAM 2023 identified the following as priority areas for action:

  • Develop Pacific Guidelines for Sustainable Reintegration.
  • Acknowledge the commitments from employers outlined in the Employer Forum Outcomes and support coordination towards those commitments including facilitating greater direct engagement between employers and Labour Sending Units (LSUs).
  • Develop recommendations to establish minimum standards to protect and improve worker earnings including review of recruitment-related costs and deductions.
  • Develop recommendations to improve worker access to social services and social protection, and increase flexibility to change employers.
  • Review options for improving accommodation with particular consideration of privacy.
  • Develop options for a rating system for employers in Australia and New Zealand.
  • Support inclusion of Unions in labour mobility forums and programmes.

2. Good Labour Mobility GovernancePLMAM 2023 recognised the importance of ensuring good labour mobility governance in the Pacific. Based on a reference paper presented by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), participants recognised the importance of guidelines on good labour mobility governance to ensure that bilateral and national labour mobility arrangements promote good governance.

3. Pacific Labour Mobility OpportunitiesPLMAM recognised the developments in the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) and the New Zealand Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) schemes. It acknowledged the ‘next generation’ approach to the review of New Zealand’s labour mobility programmes with a focus on development, skills and training opportunities, circular opportunities, worker well-being, maximising benefits and mitigation of negative impacts on communities and collective regional responsibility. It also welcomed Australia’s AUD440 million investment to improve the PALM scheme to deliver on its key objectives of recognising the mutual interest of all participants, supporting the wellbeing of workers and upholding their workplace rights and protections, addressing workforce shortages in Australia when Australian workers are unavailable, and supporting the economic growth of participating countries through employment creation and skills development.

The meeting also welcomed the new labour mobility opportunities to Cook Islands and Niue and acknowledged that the relatively higher minimum wage and skills development opportunities in these labour receiving countries exist as key incentives to facilitate intra-Pacific labour mobility.

4. Implementation Roadmap for Pacific Remittance Data CollectionThe PLMAM approved an Implementation Roadmap for Pacific Remittance Data Collection, emphasising the importance of addressing constraints to remittances data for Pacific economies. This work will be led by the PACER Plus Implementation Unit (PPIU) commencing from FY2024/25. The document can be accessed here.

5. Regional Labour Mobility InitiativesPLMAM 2023 noted the 2023 Pacific Forum Leaders Meeting directive for the development of Regional Labour Mobility Principles and encouraged the use of existing mechanisms and forums to undertake wide consultations to inform the development of the Principles. It also emphasised the importance of improved collaboration between the PPIU and the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat (PIFS) to ensure complementarity in their labour mobility initiatives and support to countries.

The meeting also welcomed and approved the offer by the Australian government to host the 2024 PLMAM.

The PLMAM Outcomes Document informs the labour mobility work programme of the PPIU and its partnerships with key labour mobility regional stakeholders. This linkage ensures that the outcomes from PLMAM are effectively implemented and that tangible outcomes are delivered to increase the development benefits of labour mobility in Pacific countries.

The full 2023 PLMAM Outcomes Document can be accessed here.

 

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