Opening address at the consultative forum on collective bargaining

By Ms Carla Henry, Deputy Director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines, delivered on behalf of Mr Lawrence Jeff Johnson, Director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the consultative forum on collective bargaining, Quezon City, Philippines, 23 June 2014

Statement | Quezon City, Philippines | 23 June 2014
  • Undersecretary Chato along with officials of DOLE,
  • Mr Bitonio,
  • Representatives of the national, regional and industry Tripartite Industrial Peace Councils and the Tripartite Executive Committees,
  • Partners from the government, employers’ and workers’ organizations,
  • Ladies and gentlemen, magandang umaga sa inyong lahat (good morning to all of you)!
It is an honour to welcome you today and to see the Philippine government, employers’ and workers’ organizations come together for a dialogue on collective bargaining.

The country’s goal of achieving sustainable and inclusive growth through decent work is crucial to ensure that growth contributes to the well-being of its people and that it benefits the society.

Freedom of association and collective bargaining are not just labour rights. These are internationally-recognized human rights, which provide an opportunity for employers’ and workers’ organizations to be part of the dialogue on government policies and programmes that lead to sustainable and inclusive growth.

High levels of collective bargaining correspond to fair and equal income distribution. It is an important tool to address social issues and concerns on workers’ welfare. It also means that employers have certainty on labour costs and other terms over a specific period to enhance stability for businesses and workers.

The levels of respect for freedom of association and collective bargaining are good indicators of strength and openness of a democracy. Where there are serious constraints to these fundamental rights including other basic civil rights, inclusive and sustainable growth is threatened.

The Philippines ratified fundamental conventions on freedom of association and collective bargaining, specifically:The Philippine government further showed its commitment to the full and effective application of these conventions with the acceptance of the ILO High-Level Mission in 2009.

The mission recommended both short-term and long-term programmes and encouraged the Government to embark on a technical cooperation programme that will help improve understanding and respect for freedom of association and collective bargaining.

Since then, we have made progress and achieved the following collectively:
  • increased awareness and capacity of DOLE key officials on applying and mainstreaming International Labour Standards at the national and regional levels;
  • developed and piloted a computerized Labour Inspection Systems Application for a participatory and real-time data collation on labour standards. The system also documents action plans and serves as a referral system to help strengthen social dialogue and industrial peace at the enterprise level;
  • increased awareness on labour relations and International Labour Standards among police and military officials and promoted the Joint Guidelines on the exercise of workers’ rights;
  • formulated Operational Guidelines for the Regional Tripartite Monitoring Boards to ensure a more effective and faster coordination on addressing trade union rights violations;
  • increased capacity of workers and employers’ organizations to engage in social dialogue by training workers organizations on win-win collective bargaining and assisting employers on developing a Handbook on Social Dialogue and setting-up a pool of trainers on social dialogue.
Today is an opportunity for us to look at good practices on collective bargaining which led to increased productivity and competitiveness. Your hard work and contribution to this forum is vital in developing a tripartite strategy on collective bargaining at the national and regional levels.

I look forward to your active participation and continued collaboration. Freedom of association and collective bargaining do not just happen. Government, employers’ and workers’ organizations must protect and maintain these fundamental rights.

Rest assured that the ILO stands ready to support you in these efforts in order to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth through decent work.

Thank you and Mabuhay!