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Philippines must recognize international labour rights

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31 January, 2023A high-level tripartite ILO mission to the Philippines has concluded after five days of consultation and dialogue with trade unions and workers’ organizations, laying out its recommendations to ensure full recognition of internationally labour rights in the country.

Since 2019, unions in the Philippines, including IndustriALL affiliates, have called on the ILO to conduct a high-level tripartite mission to investigate serious violations of workers’ rights related to freedom of association, the right to organize and collective bargaining.
A joint union report with emotional testimonies on harassment and other forms of violence was formally accepted by the high-level mission at the opening of the dialogue.
Among the violations are extra-judicial killings, intimidation and harassment by state security forces, abduction, widespread red tagging of trade unions and unionists, among others.

Dandy Miguel, president of Fuji workers union, was gunned down on his way home from work by unknown men in March, 2021.
Members of the Nexperia workers’ union have been visited thirteen times by local police, forcing them to disaffiliate from their federation.

“The ILO mission is paving the way to unify the fragmented trade union movement, with high hopes to stop the killings, illegal detention and red tagging. We also expect improved enforcement of labour laws and adherence to core labour standards, particularly ILO Convention 87 and 98 so workers can organize freely, which will increase unionization in the country,”

says Ludy Casana, TF2-KD president.
Concluding the mission, emphasis was put on the fact that the cases are serious but there has been little policy and/or legislative action taken to effectively address the concerns of ILO’s Committee of Application of Standards (CAS). A genuine tripartite cooperation to address concerns and risks is needed.
It was observed that a mindset has been created, linking parts of the union movement to the insurgency without due process, and military and police still interfere in union activities and labour relations. The mission recommended that action driven by the President is essential for genuine progress, taking into account increased coordination and consistency across varying arms of government to better safeguard against the threats to freedom of association.
The mission reiterated that the joint implementation report by the tripartite partners should be made available prior to this year’s International Labour Conference.

“It has taken three years for the government of the Philippines to accept this important ILO mission to investigate cases of violation of fundamental workers’ rights. Workers and unions in the Philippines are in a difficult situation and we welcome the mission, which puts a spotlight on the violations and in doing so can lead to a change,”

says IndustriALL southeast Asia regional secretary Shinya Iwai.