HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

All work in the Labour Division
Helen Maunga, Director of Labour, from the Ministry of Internal Affairs has been very busy over the past few months managing a number of key ministry priorities. The first few months of the year have been all work and is set to continue that way for the remainder of the year.
The Labour Division is primarily responsible for two major areas: employment and dangerous goods licensing. In each area there have been a number of hot issues targeted. The division is resource constrained, however, Maunga has been actively seeking external assistance to provide the critical analytical back up to pursue these hot areas.
The area of employment is wide-ranging and includes promoting awareness of employee rights and employer obligations. For those have been into see Maunga, you would know that Maunga has developed a number of brochures on these issues to promote understanding on employment contracts, worker’s compensation eligibility, employer’s obligations around occupational safety and health and the employer’s liability insurance.
In addition to ensuring rights and obligations are understood, Maunga has also been responsible for the development of the Employment Relations Bill which has been a long running process. Maunga is confident that the bill will be ready for Parliament this year and notes that it will provide significant improvement to the employment environment particularly protection of employee rights. Maunga considers that the expected introduction of a Government funded paid maternity leave scheme will be a milestone achievement for the rights of women and promotion of the family unit, not only for the Cook Islands but the Pacific region. Other areas that are expected to make progressive improvements in the Bill include protections against discrimination.
Other hot issues in the employment area requiring attention and policy development includes the review of the employer’s liability insurance, occupational safety and health standards and worker’s compensation and this is expected to ramp up over the remainder of the year.
While at the same time Helen is managing employment issues, she has also been juggling a review of the dangerous goods legislative framework and the general administration of licensing inspections. The month of March is particular busy as annual licenses expire at the end of that month with inspections and assessment of new licenses occurring at the same time.
Maunga acknowledges the support she has got from within her team, particularly the support of Joseph Tommy, to pursue the objectives of the division. Tommy will be leaving the division in May 2012 to other opportunities and therefore Maunga has been occupied with running a recruitment process on top of the current division workload. Maunga is hopeful that the recruitment of a new officer to the division will inject a new sense of enthusiasm to the challenging environment.
It may be difficult to find Helen Maunga when you want her, but with the workload within the Labour Division, it is not difficult to see why.

Herald Issue 608 21 March
- Terms of one China Policy document should be reviewed
- Pacific Media Assistance Scheme Seeks Innovation
- Successful NZ visit by PM
- Rerekura Teaurere New Climate Change Coordinator
- News Briefs

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