24 July 2003
Fono Focuses on Issues of
Problems such as low pay and discrimination faced by Pacific workers are on the agenda at the Council of Trade Unions’ two-day Komiti Pasefika Biennial Fono, which starts in Auckland tomorrow.
Around 140 delegates will attend the Fono, which will also discuss globalisation and the exploitation of workers around the Pacific.
The Fono co-convenor Caroline Mareko said the meeting was a chance for workers to get together “and raise common issues that we face as Pacific workers in our workplace and in our union”.
“We will strengthen Pacific Island networks between unions, look at problems faced by Pacific workers, how they are valued, and how to involve them in unions.”
MP Mark Gosche will open the Fono, and Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres is the keynote speaker.
Mike Ingpen,of the South Pacific Oceania Council of Trade Unions will address the Fono on Pacific-wide issues. EEO Commissioner Judy McGregor will speak on employment issues and PSA secretary Lynn Middleton will discuss pay equity.
CTU president Ross Wilson will talk about health and safety in employment, and MP Matt Robson will speak on his campaign for four weeks annual leave.
Luamanuvao Winnie Laban will close the first day of the Fono and speak on Pacific leadership.
The Fono co-convenor No’ora Samuela said the Fono would also work on ways to build union solidarity in the South Pacific region.
“Workers in other Pacific countries are more likely to be exploited than in New Zealand,” he said. “Here, we deal with issues such as low pay, difficulty with English, and cultural issues which affect our ability to organise as workers.”