Opening address at the training on promoting and applying international labour standards

By Mr Lawrence Jeff Johnson, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the training on promoting and applying international labour standards, Quezon City, Philippines, 22 April 2013

Statement | Quezon City, Philippines | 22 April 2013
  • Attorney Bacay and officials of the Department of Labor and Employment,
  • Attorney Mipa of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority,
  • Officials of the Commission on Human Rights
  • Ladies and gentlemen, magandang umaga sa inyong lahat!
Let me thank and welcome you to this training on promoting and applying International Labour Standards in the Philippines.

International Labour Standards are legal instruments drawn by governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations to set out basic principles and rights at work. They take the form of Conventions or Recommendations within the ILO.

By ratifying the Conventions, member States commit themselves to put provisions into effect, both in law and in practice.

Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention and the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention are fundamental conventions which the Philippines ratified in 1953.

Member States which ratified these Conventions have to take all necessary and appropriate measures to ensure that workers and employers may exercise freely their right to organize. Workers’ and employers’ organizations must enjoy adequate protection against any acts of interference by outside parties.

Freedom of association is also an integral part of the human rights contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Of equal importance is the right to collective bargaining.

We see these rights as not just being fundamental rights, but in times of crisis, also given the increasing effects of globalization and technological advance, these rights are necessary to ensure fairness and equality if we are to achieve inclusive and sustainable growth.

As the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund said in 2011, during a meeting in Singapore – it’s no longer about the level of economic growth but how to achieve economic growth which is sustainable and inclusive.

The global economic crisis has led to a series of unfortunate and violent events in Europe and also, the world has watched the events of the Arab Spring unfold with violent consequences.

The recurring theme is often that people have no voice and feel disenfranchised. This is never more so then in the workplace where many people in the world are denied their right to form organizations to help them achieve decent work and a fair return on their labour and hard work creates.

Many workers are also denied the right to collectively bargain for fair terms and we see many examples where workers are also denied the chance to not just discuss their working terms and conditions, but also their work arrangements.

The ILO team seeks to foster greater collaboration in the workplace between workers and employers to discuss and agree on equitable solutions and agreements on all work related matters for the mutual benefit of all parties.

An integral part of fostering that collaboration is for government officials like yourselves, to be aware of international labour standards, such as those that flow from ILO Conventions 87 and 98.

But the real work starts when you return to your places of work and put these rights into practice so they work for the benefit of workers, employers and your communities.

ILO and my team’s research in my previous post as Chief of the ILO Employment Trends, showed that countries, where freedom of association is allowed to flourish and collective bargaining is strong, enjoy not just good industrial relations, but also, stability, security and higher productivity, which are the cornerstones of our Decent Work agenda.

Since 2009 when an ILO High Level Mission visited the Philippines to investigate claims of infringements of these fundamental rights, the ILO has been pleased to work closely with our partners, to build bridges and develop the rights.

Today’s activity is especially important because in addition to the ILO presence, I am glad to see officials from Department of Labor and Employment and Philippine Economic Zone Authority delivering the training alongside my colleague, John Honney.

I would like to thank Attorney Bacay and Attorney Mipa, as well as all the other officials from DOLE and PEZA who attended a training of trainers’ event in January 2013 and who will now deliver the training from within on freedom of association and collective bargaining issues.

The ILO remains committed to working with our social partners in the Philippines to realize the aims of the government as stated in the Philippine Development Plan and the Philippine Labor and Employment Plan, which strive to promote inclusive and sustainable growth through decent and productive work.

I wish you all much success over the course of the next two days of this training.

Thank you and Mabuhay!