Category Archives: Media release

PRESS RELEASE: ILO Director for the Pacific visits Rarotonga.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) assists its member states in promoting rights at work, encouraging decent employment opportunities, enhancing social protection and strengthening tripartite dialogue in handling work-related issues. By becoming a member of ILO in 2015, the Cook Islands have since received technical and advisory services, seminars, workshops, training and fellowships.

Most recent was an invitation for the tripartite partners (Cook Islands Workers Association-CIWA, Chamber of Commerce-COC and Government) to attend the Pacific Regional Consultation on Alliance 8.7. Alliance 8.7 is a coalition calling on to governments to take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour and child labour in all its forms by 2025. ILO recently published 2016 figures indicating that 152 million children were engaged in child labour across the world. About 73 million of those children are working in hazardous sectors that directly endangers their health, safety and moral development. Regional figures indicate Africa as having the highest percentage of child labour with 72 million children. Asia pacific region ranks the second highest with 62 million children affected by child labour. 4.3 million Children are also victim of forced labour and forced marriage.

Such a situation cannot and must not continue and ILO’s continued support to member states to fulfil their obligations to respect, promote and to realize the fundamental principles and rights at work. Eradicating child labour and ensuring that all children are in quality education, and that young people receive the training they need to fulfil their productive and creative potential, will contribute to ending poverty, to stronger economies and to a better future for all. Ending forced labour, in all its forms, means that workers will not be robbed of their dignity nor their right to freely-chosen employment.

ILO Convention 182 on the elimination of the worst forms of child labour is close to becoming the first ILO instrument to be universally ratified. Only 6 countries out of the 187 member states of ILO have not yet ratified this convention and 5 of those, including the Cook Islands, are here in the pacific region. Following the workshop, the ILO Director for the Pacific region, Mr. Donglin Li, personally visited the Cook Islands to encourage our Government and social partners to join the global effort against child labour. Ratifying the Convention 182, he says, is a demonstration of our political commitment and good will to take precautionary measures against the worst forms of child labour ever happening to the children of the Cook Islands.

As this was his first country visit, Mr. Donglin Li presented his credentials to the Minister Albert Nicholas as well as to the Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Teariki Heather. He engaged into meetings with the Solicitor General, Acting HOM of INTAFF and representatives of CIWA and CoC. During the ILO visit, Mr. Donglin Li’s team also organized a workshop at Crown Beach, which was opened by Hon. Albert Nicholas. In his address speech to the participants, the Minister gave a brief overview of the local context and the challenges faced by our workers and employers, amongst which youth employment and climate change being critical factors affecting the world of work in our region.

Together with the Acting HOM of INTAFF, Mr. Paul Allsworth, Mr. Donglin Li introduced the work of the ILO in the Cook Islands on television and discussed the future collaboration between ILO and the Cook Islands for the upcoming two years. A legal review of the Employment Relations Act is being finalized with the aim to bring our national legislation up to ILO standards. In addition, the Cook Islands will be signing a Decent Work Country Program (DWCP), which is a country specific and practical document that defines intended results to be achieved at the country level and elaborative strategies to achieve them and measure progress.

Without doubt, the Cook Islands is working towards achieving Decent Work standards nationally. The journey is long but with the support of the ILO, all can be achieved in due time, for the greater wellbeing and prosperity of the people of the Cook Islands.

 

from left – Min INTAFF Acting Secretary Mr Paul Allsworth, Minister Albert Nicholas, ILO Director Mr Donglin Li.

 

Occupational Safety and Health National Reform Project

Occupational Safety and Health National Reform Project

Expressions of Interest are invited for Technical Assistance services for part of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Reform Project, under the designated leading agency, the Ministry of Internal Affairs-Labour and Consumer division.

The contract for services on offer is to support the Ministry’s mandate in raising awareness on both the content and procedures of the OSH reform project by providing expert technical advice in media communication strategy. The TA’s role is to assist and capacity build the Ministry to be able to engage with all stakeholders on the OSH reform including the review of the Employers’ Liability Insurance and Workers Compensation legislations. The applicants must have strong experience in communication and media strategy, public relations background and demonstrate knowledge of the cultural context.

To view the Terms of Reference, enquiries and applications, please contact the Labour and Consumer Division by email to Sandrina Thondoo, Sandrina.thondoo@cookislands.gov.ck.

Deadline to submit expressions of interest and quotes is on 15th October 2017.

 

Media Release – September Price Order

MEDIA RELEASE

SEPTEMBER PRICE ORDER

The Price Tribunal has issued the September Price Order 05/2017 for Rarotonga and all islands reflecting reductions in prices for petrol, diesel and LPG.

There is a 6 cent per litre decrease in the maximum wholesale and retail prices for petrol on Rarotonga, a 5 cent per litre decreases for diesel and a 12 cents per kg decrease in LPG. The maximum retail price that petrol can be sold to the public on Rarotonga is $1.97 cents per litre, $1.95 per litre for diesel and $4.04 per kg for LPG.

Price Order 5/2017 sets the maximum allowable retail prices for petrol, diesel and LPG on Rarotonga and all Pa Enua. Full details of the new prices are contained in the new published price order and can also be accessed by contacting the Consumer Division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs on phone number 29370.

The new prices will take effect as of today 15 September 2017 and will remain in force for the next two months until the next price order is issued in November 2017. Price inspections will be carried out and breach orders will be issued where there is non-compliance.

Consumers should expect to see the new prices clearly displayed at service stations for these price controlled products. Service stations are obligated to ensure that the new prices come into immediate effect.

Price Order 05_2017 (Sep)

 

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Contact:

pricetribunal@cookislands.gov.ck

Ministry of Internal Affairs

Price Order 05_2017 (Sep)

 

Media Release – Cook Islands National Policy Framework For Children 2017 – 2021

Cabinet on Tuesday 5th September endorsed the Te Pito Manava o te Anau – Cook Islands National Policy Framework for Children 2017 – 2021. This is a milestone for our country since we ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1996.

This Policy is unique as children on Rarotonga, Aitutaki, Mangaia and Atiu were consulted and their views contributed to the foundation of this Policy. Wide consultations across the communities were also conducted and is contributed to this Policy.

“A total of 559 primary school children and 176 secondary school students were interviewed during the development of this Policy. This inclusive collaboration is remarkable given the importance of the Te Pito Manava o te Anau – our 1st National Policy for Children in the Cook Islands and I am very pleased with it,” stated Mr Paul Allsworth, Acting Secretary of Ministry of Internal Affairs.

This Policy outlines Government’s key commitments to our children for their safety and protection of their rights, be heard and valued for who they are so that they become better leaders of our country in the future.

The Government of the Cook Islands is grateful to UNICEF Pacific office for the core support of the development of the Te Pito Manava o te Anau – Cook Islands National Policy Framework for Children.

 

 

Press Release: Recruiting Filipino Workers in the Cook Islands

Many employers in the Cook Islands seek to employ Filipino workers in their businesses or private homes as they offer skills in a variety of areas such as care and nursing, housekeeping, accountancy, mechanics, retail, hospitality, food and beverages or even agriculture. Immigration has approved 101 new applications for work permits for Filipino workers since the beginning of year 2017. However the recruiting process for Filipino workers is quite different from that of other nationalities of migrant workers since the Government of the Philippines established and enforced the Philippines Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) to facilitate the generation and preservation of decent jobs for Filipino migrant workers, promoting their protection and advocating their smooth reintegration into Philippine society after their period of employment overseas.

Any employer in the Cook Islands interested in recruiting a Filipino worker would have to go through a formal procedure with a POEA approved and licensed Philippine recruitment agency. This is mandatory and a list of the approved licensed recruitment is available online. In addition, a number of local recruiting agents can assist employers to go through this process against a service fee. Most importantly, the POEA has a standard contract for all Filipino workers going overseas and while it is possible for employers to add on or renegotiate the terms of the contract, it is the POEA who gives the final approval on the contract before releasing the worker to go overseas. This POEA approved contract is the one that legally binds the worker and the employer here in the Cook Islands. It is therefore illegal to offer Filipino workers substitute contracts once they arrive in country and both the employer and the recruiting agency can be liable under Philippines legislation to a penalty of imprisonment and a fine of approx. 50’000 NZD. Furthermore, even without any formal filing of charges, there are administrative mechanisms that can suspend, revoke or ban the recruiting agency and employers can be put on a watch list that will then prevent them from hiring any other Filipino workers and be prevented from entering the Philippines.

The Government of the Cook Islands sought clarification directly with the Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines on the above matters following queries from both employers and Filipino workers in country. The President of the Filipino Community (FilCom), Vicente Aydalla, expressed the community’s appreciation in getting the much needed clarification to ensure that Filipino workers are being treated fairly in our little paradise.

If any employers or future employers are interested in getting more information on the process of recruiting a Filipino worker, they are welcome to contact the Labour Division on intaff.employment@cookislands.gov.ck or phone 29370.

Media Release; Women’s Business Forum, 9-10 March 2017

PRESS RELEASE

Women’s Business Forum, 9-10 March 2017

Excitement is building with the preparations of a series of activities next week, including a Women’s Business Forum, in commemoration of the annual International Women’s Day that will be celebrated on 8 March 2017.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs has been working with the National Council of Women (NCW) and Cook Islands Business and Professional Women Association (BPW) in bringing together women and relevant agencies to discuss the challenges and barriers that affect women’s participation in business and employment and to identify practical solutions that can make a difference for women.

“It will be an exciting week with the parliamentary training for women commencing Monday 6 March with a Practice Parliament on Wednesday 8 March,” stated Secretary of Internal Affairs Bredina Drollet.

“This will be followed by a one day Women’s Business Forum on Thursday 9 March where we are hoping to have open and honest discussions and the challenges facing women, but more so, identify what can individuals and agencies do to make a difference to assist women better access economic opportunities”.

On Friday 10 March, the Forum will operate as an exposition of support services that are available to women looking to enter business as well as a trade fair for women to exhibit their products.

“We have been encouraged by the support of BPW who will have a central role to play in the Business Forum and we thank Rangi Johnson and Teina Mackenzie for their active interest in the preparation of this event.”

 

In addition, on International Women’s Day, there will be a special breakfast jointly sponsored by the Ministry, Parliament and BPW on 8 March with guest speaker Lisa Marklund.

The Forum will be held at the Rarotongan Resort on 9-10 March. For further information on the International Women’s Day activities next week, please contact the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

 

Contact:

Bredina Drollet, Secretary of Internal Affairs, bredina.drollet@cookislands.gov.ck

 

 

 

RATES SET TO INCREASE FROM 1 JULY

The Destitute and Infirmed Payment is set to increase from $165 a month to $200 a month from 1 July 2016 and the Old Age Pension rate for those aged 70 and over will increase from $650 a month to $660 a month.

The Destitute and Infirmed Payment is a means tested payment targeting working age people, primarily those with high disability needs, who are unable to secure employment. There are approximately 200 people currently receiving this payment.

While the rate is set to increase to $200 a month, the Government has stated an intention to progressively increase the Destitute and Infirmed Payment over time so that there is parity with the Old Age Pension.

The increase to the Destitute and Infirmed Payment was announced as part of the 2016-17 Budget at an additional cost of $92,000 bringing the total cost for the payment to $528,000 in 2016-17.

The increase in the Old Age Pension was originally announced last year and will cost an additional $87,000 bringing the total expected expenditure on the Old Age Pension for those aged 70 and over to $5.8 million in 2016-17. This is in addition to $6.3 million allocated in the 2016-17 Budget for Old Age Pensioners aged from 60 to 69.

Media Release – REVIEW OF NEW FUEL PRICING ARRANGEMENTS

The Price Tribunal is commencing a review of the new fuel pricing arrangements introduced in July 2015, as planned.

The key objective is to assess whether the objectives identified in the initial pricing review in January 2015 have been achieved, particularly whether the new pricing arrangements have delivered a reduction in the price of fuel for Cook Island consumers, offers improved protection to consumers, as well as assessing the effectiveness of bringing local market prices closer to global price movements and the equitable treatment of importers, wholesalers and retailers.

In addition, the review will also look at the efficacy of the new process, such as the administrative efficiency for all stakeholders including the necessary interactions with stakeholders in processing price orders.

The review will also take into account Pa Enua pricing arrangements, including Aitutaki.

The Review provides an opportunity for stakeholders to express their views on the new pricing arrangements and any other issues relating to fuel price regulation. The full details of the review are available at the Consumer Division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and will also be made available at all fuel retail outlets on Rarotonga and Pa Enua.

Extensive meetings with stakeholders, focus groups, questionnaires and data analysis will commence over the next few weeks with support from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

In addition, the Price Tribunal is inviting written submissions to be made by no later than 5 February 2016. The Price Tribunal encourages members of the public to take an active part in this process through written submissions to enable all views to be accurately reflected.

The Price Tribunal expects that the review will be finalised by the end of March 2016 with outcomes to be released in April 2016.

 

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Contact:

Mata Tangata

Price Tribunal Secretariat

 

Media Release – Cook Islands welfare beneficiaries to receive Christmas Bonus

21st December 2015

Government is pleased to announce that from Tuesday 22 December 2015, all beneficiaries receiving the Old Age Pension, Child Benefit, Infirm and Destitute payments from the Cook Islands Government will receive a $50 Christmas Bonus.

The payment will be made into the Bank of the Cook Islands (BCI) account of each beneficiary from Tuesday onwards.  The Christmas Bonus has been paid each year just before Christmas for over 10 years to assist beneficiaries during the busiest period in the Cook Islands.

According to the Minister of Internal Affairs, Hon. Albert Nicholas, “many of our families are facing hardship and at the same time need to make contributions to various family and community events.  Government intends to provide assistance to families in this time of need so that the celebration around the birth of Christ is indeed a time of joy”.

The Christmas Bonus was approved by Parliament in the 2015-16 Budget of the Ministry of Internal Affairs with an allocation of $300,000.  It is expected that 5,436 beneficiaries on Rarotonga and the Pa Enua will be eligible to receive the $50 Christmas Bonus.

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