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Improving working conditions in Philippines EPZs

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22 August, 2012IndustriALL Global Union and International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) affiliates met with sportswear brands and suppliers in Cebu, the Philippines, on 17 August to discuss the barriers to workers’ rights in the Mactan Economic Zone, and explore possibilities for improving working conditions in the Zone.

Following the publication of Fair Games? Human rights of workers in Olympic 2012 supplier factories, a report on working conditions in the Zone,  the meeting brought together Adidas, Brooks Running and New Balance, together with their key suppliers the Sintex corporation, the Department of Labor and Employment, unions and labour rights NGOs.

The stakeholders agreed a Memorandum of Cooperation on the promotion of freedom of association and full implementation of labour laws and standards in the apparel industry. In the agreement, the parties commit to working together on a number of issues including precarious work, the lack of authentic worker representation, the low awareness of workers’ rights, wages and inadequate grievance mechanisms.

Speaking on behalf of the Department of Labor and Employment Assistant Regional Director Lilia Estellore welcomed the initiative stating “DOLE are partnering with IndustriALL affiliates, brands and suppliers ... in signing the Memorandum of Cooperation for continuous dialogue for the decent work agenda for the sportswear industry.” The Department committed to facilitating the dialogue and suggested that involvement of suppliers be included in the scorecard against which suppliers in the region are rated. 

The multistakeholder meeting was preceded by a mediation meeting following a complaint brought by the Play Fair campaign to the organizers of the London 2012 Olympic Games, regarding violations of their Sustainable Sourcing Code in factories in the region. 

Play Fair is a campaign run by the ITUC, IndustriALL, the Clean Clothes Campaign and the Building Workers’ International (BWI) in order to improve conditions for workers producing sportswear or working in construction related to mega sports events.