By Ian G Kerr

The International labour Organisation, (ILO) a Specialised Agency of the UN Economic &Social Council, claims that Vanuatu Employers must provide decent work. They claim this can only be done by controlling the labour market, implementing legislation to protect workers and their jobs,and to have all work comply with ILO standards. What eludes these do-gooders, is the ideals they are imposing are actually restricting employment opportunities, and making employment more difficult for the very people they are claiming to help. Many developing Nations,namely Brazil, China, India, Kenya,Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam have not ratified Convention 87 because they understand the importance of having a productive workforce.

Minimum wages are promoted by the ILO, yet minimum wages for some, means unemployment for others. Freedom of Association is heavy on the ILO agenda, yet Freedom of Choice does not rate a mention. Why? Because the ILO supports Collective Bargaining, and Collective Bargaining is in effective if some workers choose not to join labour organisations or unions.Rights at Work have supersededand undermined the fundamental Right to Work. Vanuatu one of the highest regulated Labour markets in the Pacific, yetthe ILO wants even more labour regulations.

Promoting increased barriers for employment will ultimately lead to less people working as employers struggle to provide work, and load the costs of further regulations and rights to the hourly rate. What is decent work? Many Australian and New Zealand would be workers do not consider labouring on orchards, dairy farms and vineyards as decent enough for them to perform, yet for a Seasonal Worker from Vanuatu this is a decent opportunity to improve their and their families life. As working conditions and lifestyles change what may have been acceptable as decent last year, may be perceived completely differently in the future.

Workers in the ILO are cocooned from reality. With a budget of hundreds of millions of dollars,their employees guaranteed incomes are not exposed to cyclones, man-made disasters,volcanic eruptions, and other planet changes. Their goal of leaving no one behind means we are all dragged backwards rather than allowing winners and community leaders to pull everyone forward. Rather than promoting an environment to encourage employment, ILO standards are suffocating employment.

ILO Reports and their Literature on the labour market in the Pacific all raise concerns of unemployed youth and the importance of finding them jobs. I can reliably inform the ILO and their representatives that there is plenty of work to be done in Vanuatu.Rather than trying to expand social security systems that encourage dependence on the state, why not introduce a youth rate that would open up many opportunities for Vanuatu’s younger workers who want to exercise their Right to Work? From the ILO, there will be cries of inequality, discrimination and exploitation, yet they are denying a wonderful opportunity for young people to add meaning and purpose to their life. Loyalty and Discipline, Respect and Responsibility are values that emanate from the performance of work. Pride, Satisfaction and Achievement are by-products of a job well done. It is ironic that an Organisation that was established in order to eliminate forced child labour is now promoting barriers that prevent the employment of young people