Freedom of association and collective bargaining

FOA CB Strategy Planning Workshop for Workers

Thirty-seven trade unionists from the public and private sector labour centers held a Workers' Strategy Planning Workshop to craft a results-based workplan on freedom of association and collective bargaining principles.


The two-day Strategy Planning Workshop for Workers intends to formulate the workers’ response, through a consolidated strategic action plan, addressing violations of workers’ civil liberties and trade union rights. At the minimum, the planning workshop aims to craft a detailed workers’ action plan from both the private and public sector workers, for the ILO EU GSP+ Project on Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining (FOA CB) focused on addressing violations on workers’ human and trade union rights and DCM recommendations. At the maximum, the activity aims to formulate the strategic action plan covering 5 years for workers’ to effectively apply ILO Conventions 87 and 98 on Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining.

Workers right to self-organization as institutions to achieve social justice and equity is a major State policy in the Philippines, as enshrined in the Constitution. However, challenges remain in the effective application of enabling policies and international commitments. The Philippine application of freedom of association under ILO Convention 87 has been discussed twice during the Committee on the Application of Standards (CAS), in June 2007, during the 96th session of the International Labour Conference (ILC) and, in June 2016, during the 105th ILC session. The CAS in 2007 requested the government to accept the High Level Mission (HLM), which took place in September 2009, while in 2016, the Direct Contacts mission, which took place in February 2017. In both instances, the missions produced their respective reports bearing conclusions and recommendations.

While several policy reforms, measures and mechanisms have been introduced to implement recommendations of the 2009 High Level Mission, the 2017 Direct Contacts mission and 2017 CEACR observations highlighted remaining concerns regarding numerous allegations of anti-union violence and lack of progress in the investigations and legislative reforms. The DCM conclusions and recommendations categorized the issues into three main groups: (i) those relating to civil liberties and trade union rights; (ii) legislative issues and (iii) promotion of a climate conducive to freedom of association.

The EU GSP + project incorporates relevant DCM recommendations, while building upon gains achieved from ILO assistance and other measures since the 2009 HLM, particularly on the civil liberties and trade union rights involving violence against trade unionists, including extra-judicial killings (EJKs). The FOA CB project will also seek to strengthen compliance of FOA CB labor rights in the context of expanded trade and investments. The Philippines has become a beneficiary to the EU GSP+ since December 2014 and the only country granted such an arrangement within the Southeast Asian region. The European Union’s special incentive arrangement for sustainable development and good governance or the Generalized Scheme of Preferences/GSP+ grants the removal of more than 66% of tariff lines to beneficiary countries which makes binding commitment to ratify and effectively implement 27 international Conventions on human and labor rights, environmental protection and good governance.

The ILO EU GSP+ on FOA CB project seek to build upon the gains from previous initiatives of ILO social partners on the effective implementation of ILO Conventions 87 and 98 as well as address the 2016 CEACR and 2017 DCM comments and recommendations.

Key results of previous ILO FOA CB projects:
  • AO35 IAC Operational Guidelines expanded coverage (beyond killings of political activists but also advocates);
  • AO 35 Technical Working Group integrated FOA CB principles in the operational manual;
  • National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (NTIPC) adopted the harmonized operational guidelines of the Regional Tripartite Monitoring Bodies (RTMBs) and the NTIPC Monitoring Body;
  • Legislative and policy proposals were raised during the Consultative Forum on Collective Bargaining Reforms;
  • Integration of FOA CB principles into the AO 35 Training Programme. Trade unionists had also been given two seats as observers in the AO 35 Inter-Agency Committee (IAC);
  • Two (2) Regional Framework Plans for Visayas and Mindanao and four (4) National TU Plans for Luzon were developed to strengthen the capacity of new and potential union leaders in organizing and union paralegal service;
  • In September 7, 2015, the Philippine Labour Secretary signed Department Order 40-I-15, which firmed up the employer-as-bystander rule in any certification election and hastened the process of voluntary recognition through SEBA;
  • Adopted the 2011 PNP Guidelines and 2012 AFP Guidelines (namely: Joint DOLE-PNP-PEZA Guidelines in the Conduct of PNP Personnel, Economic Zone Police and Security Guards, Company Security Guards and Similar Personnel During Labor Disputes and Guidelines on the conduct of the DOLE, DILG, DND, DOJ, AFP and PNP Relative to the Exercise of Workers Rights and Activities)


The Workers’ Strategy Planning Workshop will contribute in:
  1. Formulating a results chain or results framework from the Workers’ perspective towards the effective implementation and promotion of a climate conducive to freedom of association and collective bargaining covering a period of 5 years (2017-2022); and
  2. Consolidate the Workers Group’s action plan with key results areas covering 2 years to be covered by the ILO EU GSP+ FOA CB project, with priority focus on the workers’ component which is focused on the monitoring, investigation and resolution of pending cases of violations of civil liberties and trade union rights.


  1. Key results-chain on FOA and CB from the Workers Group expressed through a strategic action plan;
  2. FOA CB 2-year project Workplan for the Workers’ Group.

Workshop content:

The strategic planning workshop comprise the following sections:
  1. The EU GSP+ FOA CB Project and the Direct Contacts Mission (DCM) Recommendations – this session focuses on the review presentation of the FOA CB project anchored under the interconnecting frameworks of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and Country Programme Outcome (CPO). The DCM Recommendations will be extensively discussed in this section on how to integrate the recommendations within the project.
  2. Theory of change and results-based planning framework – in laying the framework towards results-based planning, this section focuses in understanding the process of formulating theory of change, building the key-results chain and the logical framework for the strategic plan of the workers’ group.
  3. Parallel Workshops of private and public sector unions on FOA CB – this section opens the space for the participants from the public and private sectors to discuss their key results chain, strategic plan, and specific plans for the FOA CB project.
  4. Finalization of workplans, orientation of ILO project approval processes – this section tackles the parameters of the project support and processes according to the ILO rules and policies. Open discussion of the Workers’ Strategic Action Plan (2017-2022) and the specific initiatives and key result areas for the FOA CB project workplan (2017-2019).
  5. Follow-up activities – discussion and agreement on the next activities of the group in relation to the FOA CB project.
  6. Evaluation – session for reflections and evaluation of the process.


The planning workshop intend to invite key representatives and focal persons on FOA CB of the trade unions from the public and private sectors. The participating trade unions from the (a) public sector are: PSLINK, PIPSEA, CIU, PGEA, COURAGE; and (b) private sector are: TUCP, ALU, IndustriAll, SENTRO, FFW, KMU, and PTGWO. A total of 40 participants will be invited, 20 from the public sector unions and 20 from the private sector unions. Each labor center may nominate a maximum of four participants and consider allocation participants from the national office, local unions and one from the regions. Women participants are strongly encouraged.