The PLMAM slam
The second Pacific Labour Mobility Annual Meeting (PLMAM), hosted by the Government of Solomon Islands, was held in Honiara on 9-11 October. (The first was in Brisbane in November 2017.)
The PLMAM might have an ugly acronym, but it is a great opportunity for researchers such as ourselves to meet policy makers of sending and receiving countries, employers, interested activists and journalists, and of course other researchers. The meeting was full of interesting people and presentations, and a terrific learning experience.
That said, it is clearly an event that is still finding its feet. The foundation for the PLMAM is the Arrangement on Labour Mobility, which itself is a side agreement to the Pacer Plus regional trade pact. The PLMAM is basically a commitment by Australia and New Zealand to fund an annual meeting for reviewing progress against the Arrangement’s objectives, the most important of which is to “enhance labour mobility schemes” in Australia and New Zealand for the Pacific. Beyond that, the Arrangement gives little guidance as to how the PLMAM should operate, apart from the requirement that it should produce “a consensus report on the discussions and any recommendations.”
The PLMAM currently straddles two approaches: an informal and an informal one. Most of the two-day conference was taken up with a variety of interesting presentations by sending countries, receiving countries, and a few employers and employees. There were numerous interesting insights provided, of which we single out the following five.
One was the number of countries in the process of developing labour mobility strategies, including the two biggest senders, Vanuatu and Tonga. This makes sense. Labour mobility is becoming a serious business in the Pacific.