The Minister for Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment, Mr Jone Usamate said that Fiji’s Ministry of Labour will continue to provide technical assistance in the field of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) to the Papua New Guinea Ministry of Labour and Industrial Relations.
This commitment was initially agreed between the two countries in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was approved by the Fijian Cabinet on 5th April 2011.
This continuing commitment was sealed in the signing ceremony of the Third MOU Extension between the two countries today at the Holiday Inn under the auspices of the International Labour Organization, Suva Office.
Mr Usamate advised that this Third MOU Extension commits the Fijian Labour Ministry to complete PNG’s OSH Bill next month after considering the last comments from stakeholders and ILO, in order for the Bill to be approved by PNG’s National Executive Council (or Cabinet) before the Bill is tabled to the PNG Parliament in July 2014.
The MOU Extension also commits the Fijian Labour Ministry to continue the capacity building of PNG’s OSH Inspectorate and the training of its OSH Inspectors to facilitate the implementation of the new PNG OSH law.
He said that the signing today signifies the very strong spirit of regional cooperation and aspirations between the Governments and peoples of the two MSG countries.
The desired outcome of this South-South agreement is to ensure that PNG’s policy, laws, institutions and practices on OSH are modernized to significantly improve the social protection for the people of PNG.
It will also provide a stronger OSH Inspectorate, better OSH standards and practices with improved workplace productivity. The Minister reiterates that the Fijian Government is strongly committed to provide the necessary technical expertise through our Ministry of Labour to achieve these desired outcomes.
At the recent MSG Leaders’ Summit, the Fijian Prime Minister made his full commitment for the Fijian Government to provide assistance to the MSG Secretariat to ensure inter-alia regional integration and cooperation. The signing today forms part of this bilateral cooperation between the two nations.
Mr Usamate said that the Fijian Government fully appreciates the urgent need to get the OSH Reform in PNG moving, noting that the massive US$19 billion Exxon Mobil’s PNG-LNG project is on track to come on line and to deliver its first LNG cargo in 2014.
He expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the PNG Minister for Labour and Industrial Relations, Honorable Benjamin Poponawa and his Secretary for Labour, Mr George Vaso and members of the PNG delegation for their commitment and travelling to Fiji to grace this important signing of the MOU today.
He also welcomed similar partnership with PNG in other Labour related areas.