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Stakeholders look to enhance mutual development gains from labour mobility

By Talaia Mika

APIA, SAMOA – 07 NOVEMBER 2022: Over a hundred and fifty delegates from across the Pacific region are meeting in Samoa this week to discuss regional labour mobility priorities during the sixth Pacific Labour Mobility Annual Meeting 2022 that opens tomorrow.

Hosted by the Government of Samoa from 7-10 November 22, the 2022 PLMAM will be the first in-person meeting since 2019 and will be opened by the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Labour, Leatinu’u Wayne So’oialo.

The meeting includes; Australia Head of Delegation Ms. Carli Shilito, Assistant Secretary, Pacific Labour Policy and Engagement with DFAT; New Zealand Head of Delegation Ms. Catherine McIntosh, Unit Manager, Pacific Regional Division with MFAT; Head of PACER Plus Implementation Unit, Mr Roy Lagolago and more.

Participants’ registrations started at the Taumeasina Island Resort today for the four-day meeting on the theme, “Reinvigorating Labour Mobility Cooperation for Development”.

Some f the issues to be discussed include:

  • PLMAM 2021 OUTCOMES; Progress towards the outcomes of PLMAM 2021,
  • Arrangements on labour mobility,
  • Increasing the effectiveness of these arrangements,
  • Building skills and entrepreneurship to magnify labour mobility gains,
  • Adoption of host country and tentative dates for PLMAM 2023.

The PLMAM is provided in the PACER Plus Arrangement on Labour Mobility as a mechanism to advance regional labour mobility cooperation.

PLM East Timor delegate
PLM East Timor delegate

Bossyta Guterres attending the PLMAM2022 from Dili, East Timor.

After the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic, this year’s meeting is an opportunity for Pacific labour mobility stakeholders to re-engage, reset and re-commit to advancing an effective level of cooperation that can enhance mutual development gains from labour mobility.

For the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme, Samoa has consistently been one of the top three suppliers of labour under New Zealand’s RSE scheme since its introduction in 2007.

Samoa also participates in Australia’s Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) and the longer term Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) which is now aligned under the single Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme.

During the pandemic, the numbers of Samoan workers heading offshore for PALM employment have grown substantially.

For the Samoan government, the recent increase in people leaving the country for temporary work overseas is causing major concerns.