At UN, Tonga calls on rich countries to be flexible on seasonal labour schemes
Wealthy countries facing seasonal labour shortages need to be more flexible when crafting their policies towards workers from poorer States if they want to fill those gaps, Tonga’s Foreign Minister told the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate today.
Sonatane T. Taumoepeau-Tupou said his country continued to “advocate for ‘labour mobility’ as a vehicle for achieving its pro-poor strategies” and overcoming the lack of economic development and employment opportunities in many island States.
“Earlier this year the New Zealand Government instituted a ‘seasonal labour programme’ for agricultural workers from ‘five kick-start countries’ in the Pacific, including Tonga,” he said. The other four nations involved in the programme are Kiribati, Samoa, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
“We view this as an important and positive first step towards wider acceptance of this type of model by developed countries as an option to resolving seasonal labour shortage.”
The Foreign Minister also noted that his country’s Legislative Assembly this year passed laws allowing dual citizenship, in recognition of the large numbers of Tongans who live outside their country but still contribute to the economy and want to have links to their homeland.