Tripartism and social dialogue in Pacific island countries

Government, workers and employers meet in Papua New Guinea
Tripartism refers to engagement and consultation between governments, workers and employers. The Tripartite Consultation (International Labour Standards) Convention, 1976 (No. 144) and supporting ILO recommendations refer to dialogue between tripartite partners, not only in relation to ILO matters, but also promote the principle of engagement on wider social and economic issues.
Tripartite arrangements play a key role in promoting good governance. Tripartite labour advisory bodies provide an important focal point for dialogue on policy issues relating to broad labour issues. Engagement in tripartite policy dialogue in these areas is more likely produce decisions that are democratic, sustainable, informed by experience and “owned” by all constituents.
Despite the benefits of establishing tripartite institutions, the Pacific region also faces challenges, including achieving a balanced representation on tripartite bodies. This can be difficult in countries with relatively few private sector unions compared to the public sector. In addition, smaller Pacific member States often have small labour administrations with a limited number of staff undertaking a wide portfolio of responsibilities. Often a lack of resources can hinder the provision of Secretariat capacity for tripartite institutions. Strong tripartite institutions are most effective when they have labour administrations with sufficient resources to support their work with a dedicated budget for their work.

The ILO has been providing technical support for the establishment and capacity building of tripartite labour advisory bodies. This has included technical support to develop legislation to establish the Tripartite Labour Advisory Council in Vanuatu in 2011, the establishment of a Decent Work Agenda Steering Committee in Kiribati in 2010 and most recently the formalisation of a new Labour Advisory Board in the Solomon Islands in 2012.

In 2013, with support from the ILO’s International Training Centre in Turin, a tailored training package for tripartite labour advisory bodies was developed and piloted in Vanuatu. This training will continue to be rolled out in other Pacific Island member States during 2014.

Tripartite Institutional Arrangements in the Pacific Region:

Solomon Islands Labour Advisory Board
Kiribati Decent Work Agenda Steering Committee
Vanuatu Tripartite Labour Advisory Council
PNG National Tripartite Consultative Council
Fiji Employment Relations Advisory Board
Samoa National Tripartite Forum
Tuvalu Tripartite Maritime Labour Convention Committee

Key resources
E-Campus – ITC – ILO free online training course: Introduction to social dialogue and tripartism