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Major step forward for increased maternity leave in the Philippines

8 March, 2017IndustriALL women in the Philippines are behind a big step towards improved maternity protection in the country as the Senate voted on 6 March to approve a bill to extend paid maternity leave to 120 days, with an additional 30 days for single mothers. 

The Senate approved the proposals in the third and final reading of the bill, contrary to the House of Representatives, which approved legislation to extend maternity leave to 100 days. Current provisions for statutory maternity leave in the Philippines are 60 days for a normal delivery and 78 days for a caesarian section.  There will now be a bicameral debate to produce a common bill on the issue.

The Senate success comes after strong campaigning by IndustriALL affiliates in the Philippines as part of IndustriALL’s gender and maternity protection project in South East Asia, funded by Dutch trade union organization FNV Mondiaal.

IndustriALL women were represented in the technical working group in drafting the new legislation. Lobbying by IndustriALL women in the Philippines also succeeded in including the ratification of the ILO Convention 183 on Maternity Protection in the agenda of the country’s National Anti-Poverty Commission.

Ratification of ILO Convention 183 was a key goal of the IndustriALL/FNV Mondiaal 17-month project in South East Asia which ended in December 2016. Other goals were to strengthen women and gender structures in IndustriALL affiliates and increase union membership.

Under the project, the Industrial Workers Federation of Myanmar grew from 11,232 to 13,486 members, 80 per cent of whom are women. While membership of the Mining Workers Federation of Myanmar almost doubled from 3,785 to 7452 in less than two years, with 30 per cent women’s membership. In Thailand there has been an estimated 30 to 40 per cent increase in women members since the start of the project in unions PTTU, EGAT, CWUA and TWFT.   IndustriALL’s women’s committee in Thailand also submitted a position paper to the Prime Minister, outlining workers’ support for the ratification of ILO Convention C183

In Indonesia, IndustriALL affiliate FSPMI adopted a 40 per cent quota for women in leadership positions. Other affiliates in the country such as SPN and SEMWU are planning to do the same in 2017.  IndustriALL women in Indonesia also resumed communication with the Ministry of Health on the ratification of ILO Convention 183, while pushing for improved maternity protection and benefits in the country. Meanwhile, IndustriALL affiliates set up women’s committees in 94 factories in Indonesia, tasked to train women and campaign on women-related issues.

IndustriALL’s assistant general secretary, Jenny Holdcroft, said:

IndustriALL’s gender and maternity project in South East Asia has achieved incredible results in a short period of time thanks to the hard work of the women involved and support from FNV Mondiaal. We sincerely hope that the victory in the Senate will lead to new legislation in the Philippines that will significantly improve the lives of all working new mothers in the country.