Mar 07, 2021 Last Updated 9:29 AM, Mar 6, 2021

FOR many years, the South Pacific and Oceanic Council of Trade Unions (SPOCTU) has linked unionists from Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, to organise around wages, conditions and occupational health and safety. Today, the agenda for Pacific unions is expanding. Trade unionists are facing more complex challenges, such as supporting the thousands of Pacific workers who move offshore each year, restricting child labour or guaranteeing employment rights after natural disasters.

Unionists are a minority of the workforce in every Pacific country, but are reaching out to young workers and trying to strengthen communication across national boundaries. SPOCTU affiliates gathered in Brisbane earlier this year, and Australia’s Seasonal Work Programme (SWP) and New Zealand’s Recognised Seasonal Employment (RSE) scheme were a major focus for debate. Thousands of ni-Vanuatu travel to Australia and Zealand each year under RSE and SWP, often leaving their home islands for the first time.

But Jean-Pascal Saltukro of Vanuatu’s National Workers Union (NWU) says there have been too many cases where ni-Vanuatu workers have been exploited, through unexpected changes in working conditions or extra deductions taken from their weekly salary. “Some seasonal workers aren’t receiving the level of salary set out in the contract they signed in Vanuatu with a recruiting agent,” he said. “For example, the contract they sign might say that they’re paid by the hour. 

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A PROLONGED drought blamed on the El Nino weather system has dropped water levels to an even critical threshold at the remaining reservoir that the National Emergency Committee (NEC) fears that without rain the reservoir will run dry in the coming weeks. “Palau Public Utilities Corporation (PPUC) estimates that based on the current water level and usage rates and assuming conditions persists unabated, a total water outage is likely to occur in the next two to three weeks,”

NEC chairman Antonio Bells said in an April 1 letter to President Remengesau. President Remengesau as a result of the NEC’s advise sought an extension of the State of Emergency declaration which lapsed April 2 but lack of quorum in the Senate ended the state of emergency on a technicality.

NEC said that although it has been a productive 10 days with the state of emergency being utilised to identify existing wells, procure equipment to address water shortage, an extension of the declaration is necessary to “adequately implement measures tailored to mitigating this ongoing crisis and make reasonable preparations for a total water outage.”

Press Secretary Olkeriil Kazuo said that one water well will be operational this week stating that tests of the water was needed to be done before its allowed to be used. Kazuo however said that the water to be produced by the well would still be too little to lift water use restrictions.

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THE Melanesian Spearhead Group’s decision, granting associate membership to Indonesia and observer status to the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP), forges a consensus between competing pressures, which will continue to buffet the MSG. Public opinion Drawing on strong cultural ties across Melanesia, exiled West Papuans like the late John Otto Ondawame had struggled for years to make a diplomatic breakthrough. Today, the tide is turning. MSG governments are starting to take notice as the Facebook generation across Melanesia ramps up the pressure: sharing information and pictures from inside West Papua on social media, talking around the kava bowl and holding public rallies. Last month in Honiara, hundreds of Solomon Islanders rallied in the streets, PNG musician George Telek performed a solidarity concert and churches held prayer vigils. Pressure increased on host Manasseh Sogavare, shifting his government’s position to support the ULM’s bid. Sogavare acknowledged the debate “challenges many of the fundamental values that we in Melanesia profess to uphold as members of the United Nations and countries founded on the principles of Christianity”. Play best friv games this website.

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by Nic Maclellan

THE Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) has made an historic decision to expand its reach, granting associate member status to Indonesia and observer status to the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP). The decision was formally announced at the 20th MSG leaders’ summit, held in Honiara in June. The MSG’s current membership includes Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Kanak independence coalition Front de Liberation Nationale Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS). Since 2011, Indonesia and Timor-Leste have held observer status. Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare was joined by Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, FLNKS representative Victor Tutugoro of Kanaky/New Caledonia and Johnson Naviti, Director General of the Office of the Prime Minister in Vanuatu. Right to the last minute, Vanuatu’s participation in the summit was up in the air. The no-confidence motion that brought down the government of Prime Minister Joe Natuman, in favour of his former Foreign Minister Sato Kilman Livtuvanu, was still before the courts on the day before the leaders’ retreat. In the end, Vanuatu went without representation by either Prime Minister or Foreign Minister, with senior official Naviti acting as a special envoy.

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by Nic Maclellan

Tuna creates unique niche

THERE could soon be a whole lot more demand for sustainably caught tuna from the Pacific. For the first time ever, Greenpeace has just released a canned tuna guide in the United States - the largest tuna consuming nation in the world.
The question is, can Pacific Island Countries move to meet this emerging demand?
The new Greenpeace canned tuna guide, launched with considerable fanfare, ranks US brands from best to worst, offering American shoppers a way to choose fair and sustainable tuna from the Pacific region. So why is a shopping guide like this needed?

*Lagi Toribau from Fiji is the leader of the global tuna political project with Greenpeace. With over a decade of experience, he has led numerous ship tour expeditions targeting pirate fishing and tuna overfishing in the Pacific as well as heading Greenpeace’s participation in key regional and international fisheries political meetings. Most recently, Lagi has worked as Head of Program for Greenpeace East Asia, leading the establishment of program operations in Korea and setting up the oceans campaign in mainland China.

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ByLagi Toribau

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