Vanuatu now has a Labour Mobility Policy after 10 years of participating actively in the labour mobility schemes in New Zealand (NZ) and Australia.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Ralph Regenvanu, who launched the policy yesterday (Friday) said, “the policy will set the right direction for Vanuatu’s labour mobility programme, strengthen its governance structure, enhance the agricultural sector, increase job opportunities and recognize skills development for Vanuatu.”

Labour migration has become a prominent activity for the people of Vanuatu. The remittance of labour mobility into the country is estimated at Vt1.8 billion.

This policy will guide the government to reflect on the policy and direction of the scheme into the future as both NZ and Australia are increasing the scope and size of their programmes.

According to Minister Regenvanu, the policy will improve how the government governs and operates labour mobility starting with better recruitment processes and provide better protection for workers.

“…Reduce costs for workers and ensure their well-being creating VNPF superannuation funds and workers can access their earnings in accordance to the receiving countries’ law.

“Increase labour mobility opportunities and make them available to women including people with disabilities.

“Strengthen the social and economic benefits of labour mobility and enhance Vanuatu’s skills base to better match skills required to labour needs.”

The Minister of Internal Affairs, Andrew Napuat, said Vanuatu has benefited significantly from the Recognized Seasonal Employer (RSE) and Seasonal Workers Programme (SWP) and is embarking on new opportunities to include semi-skilled labour with the recent Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS).

Vanuatu is dominating all three schemes, with over 10,000 workers.

Minister Napuat said the policy will address Vanuatu’s own labour market needs, organize its institutions, boost regulation, and level the playing field between employers and workers.

“As Vanuatu strives to realize its potential under PACER Plus Trade Agreement, the need for a guiding mechanism like this policy must succeed.

“In regards to the National Sustainable Development Plan, this policy framework must achieve the creation of job opportunities, recognize and respect worker’s rights, and enable income opportunities.

“After the launching of this policy, it is imperative that implementation must be effected immediately, given the significance of this economic activity. The ministries of internal affairs and foreign affairs must cooperate with development panthers as Australia and NZ to achieve the priorities.”

The Department of External Trade and the Department of Labour and Employment Services Unit are applauded for finalizing the policy.