Minister Andrew Napuat announces changes to existing Labour practices

By Len Garae

The process of Work Permit has changed as of January 1, 2018.

Previously, an applicant would collect his application and pay a lump sum of Vt210,000 which included his application fee and his work permit fee.

As of the beginning of this year, an applicant is required to pay a Vt10,000 application fee and lodge his application.

The application is then screened by the Labour Department, if the department is satisfied,it will advise the applicant to pay the Vt200,000 work permit fee.

The Minister adds, “Also while in the past an applicant would include a copy of the advertisement for the job, as of January 1 2018, the applicant must include the job description.

“This job description will help the Labour Department to compare this job with existing jobs locally to determine whether or not ni Vanuatu workers are qualified to do the job”.

In addition, the Minister says it is a must for the applicant to also include a training plan.

“At times, due to the urgency of the task that needs to be carried out, expatriate advisers and workers are recruited without any training plan included. If you are tasked to work in Vanuatu, the Labour Department will make sure that a training plan is attached to your application to show how you are going enable transfer of knowledge to a local to succeed you when your contract ends. This has become effective as of January 1”.

Furthermore, the Minister wants the Vt200,000 work permit fee reviewed by the Labour Department in line with work permit fees charged by other countries in the Region.

“If there is a need to increase the fee then it will be increased”, adds the Minister.

Regarding mediation to complaints, the Minister says the Labour Department will help improve the process by increasing the number of staff involved to three.

The increase will also expand the work of the Department to those Provinces where labour increase activity is evident.

“Another aspect that needs to be revisited is conciliation and arbitration. It is too high so the Labour Department has to explore other options and decide whether it should remain or outsourced”, he says.

The Minister also calls for an amendment to the definitions to the Trade Dispute Act regarding conciliation and arbitration and to clarify who is to be responsible for the costs involved. “This is one responsibility that is shouldered by the Labour Department on behalf of the parties and in the New Year; we want to define this as to who is going to be responsible for the costs.

The Minister says the staff of the Labour Department will be increased this year to ensure health and safety in the work place is effectively carried out. “We want to review the terms and conditions of the Employment Act to make sure that relevant amendments are made to:

• Overtime rate which is currently too low

• Work on public holiday and Sunday for employers to take note of, to pay their staff instead of giving them day off and

• To endure worker’s insurance cover due to injuries in the work place

To conclude his address on labour issues, the Minister wishes to thank the Governments of New Zealand and Australia for opening their labour markets through RSE and SWP for workers from Vanuatu to work in the two countries and bring home their earnings to contribute to the country’s economy, as well as their individual households.

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