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Philippines union movement fights against precarious work

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2 August, 201216 trade unions in the Philippines representing textile, garment, metal, auto, electronics, cement and mining industries joined hands to develop an Action Plan against Contract and Agency Labour/Precarious Employment in July.


The filipino affiliates of IndustriALL Global Union got together on 26-27 July 2012 in a national conference held at the University of the Philippines in Manila. The union leaders and activists discussed impacts of precarious employment, which have grown over the years resulting in segmented labour markets and deep social and economic inequality. 

Annie Adviento, Regional representative of IndustriALL informed the Philippine unions of the successful founding congress of the IndustriALL Global Union in June 2012 and that one of the top priorities of the new global union is the STOP Precarious Work Campaign.

Dr Rene Ofreneo of the University of the Philippines in his presentation demonstrated the links between precarious employment and the increasing numbers of the poor in the Philippines. “As more casuals being hired (as trainees, short-term hires, project hires, agency hires), as outsourcing of jobs becoming the norm, and unionism declining, 250,000 out of 40 million workers in the Philippines are covered by collective bargaining agreements (CBAs).”

“The struggle for regular employment and against precarious working conditions is the most crucial union endeavor at this point in time. The survival of decent jobs depends on it… so does the survival of our UNION, 

Tony Salvador – LEARN Philippines.”   

Tony Salvador of Labour Education and Research Network-LEARN said Contract and Agency Labour is the most serious problem facing the labour movement as it undermines all of the workers’ basic rights including the most important Core Labour Standards. Tony also informed the unionists of the ongoing debates in the Philippine Congress concerning the draft bills on contract and agency labour; the Philippines labour movement has been campaigning for a stricter law against Labour Only Contracting or temporary labour agency, and to get the principal to take its responsibility as direct employer. Tony also cited -- that “In fact, security of tenure translates into economic development”.  

Vonny Diananto, also regional representative of IndustriALL shared the experience of FSPMI (Indonesia Metal Workers’ Federation) and the strategy in organizing 20,000 agency workers in the auto and electronics industry in Indonesia.

Aranya Pakapath, IndustriALL Regional Project Coordinator on Contract and Agency Labour outlined the experience of India’s contract workers’ union (PCSS), which has persistently fought for union recognition and regular employment of contract workers working at Holcim cement plants in India.

Through workshops, the Philippine unionists identified common issues one of which is the exclusion clause in the collective agreements which states that only regular workers are part of the bargaining scope, making ‘right to organize’ and ‘collective bargaining’ not applicable to all workers.  

At the end of the two day conference, the union delegates agreed that the trade union movement has a responsibility to lead the struggle against precarious work and for promotion of decent work for all workers. The unionists are committed to start trade union education for contract and agency workers working side by side with them in the plants, as well as advocacy work for better protection of their human and labour rights. This commitment was manifested in the Joint Declaration of Unity against Contract and Agency Labour/Precarious Employment approved by the participants at the end of the conference.