- Brother Ramon Certeza, National Coordinator of the IndustriALL Philippines
- Sister Lorna Ferrer, Gender and Maternity Protection Coordinator of the IndustriALL of In
- Brothers and sisters from trade unions and federations,
- Ladies and gentlemen, magandang umaga sa inyong lahat! [Good morning to all of you]
Labour inspection is a key pillar of an effective system of labour administration. It serves many purposes including enforcing labour and related social legislation, providing advice to workers and employers’ on existing standards, promoting a culture of prevention and compliance, and providing feedback on the effectiveness of laws and policies.
For workers, a well-coordinated, professional and efficient labour inspectorate system ensures decent, safe and healthy workplaces.
Although, labour inspection is primarily the responsibility of government, both workers and employers have roles in ensuring that the labour inspectorate system, fulfils its core functions effectively. These core functions, which include allowing free access to workplaces, carrying out independent investigations, providing advice on how to remedy defects, and initiating legal proceedings.
These legal proceedings, if necessary are detailed in the Labour Inspection Convention, 1947 (No. 81) and the Labour Inspection (Agriculture) Convention, 1969 (No. 129), which will be discussed later in the programme.
The country’s Labor Laws Compliance System (LLCS) is unique within Asia, as it provides various opportunities for workers’ participation, which in the process makes the inspection more transparent. At the enterprise level, no assessment can take place without a workers’ representative.
Workers in enterprises subjected to Special Assessment Visit of Enterprises (SAVE), may also request the involvement of labour federations in the process of coordinated assessments conducted in aid of policy formulation. Also, under the new Rules, Certificates of Compliance can only be awarded if it has been published online in the concerned DOLE Regional Office’s website, and no complaints have been filed against it.
The current thrust of DOLE, with ILO support, to bring the government, workers and employers in a tripartite discussion on compliance issues provides workers’ an opportunity to give their recommendations on how to improve inspection strategies. At the same time, it provides an opportunity to address gaps in existing standards on working conditions whether at the national, regional and sectoral or industry levels.
These opportunities for broader representation also present challenges for the trade union movement. One major challenge is how to ensure genuine workers’ representation in the midst of dwindling trade union density.
The 2014 data from the Philippine Statistical Authority (PSA) showed that trade union density or proportion of union membership among those employed, has dramatically dropped from 20 per cent in 2003 to almost 8 per cent in 2014. The 2014 PSA data also indicated a decline of collective bargaining coverage rate, from almost 20 per cent in 2003 to 8 per cent.
The emergence of non-standard forms of employment, particularly misuse of contracting and subcontracting, has not only contributed to declining union density and low collective bargaining coverage, but has also left a large number of workers, in precarious working arrangements.
PSA’s Integrated Survey on Labor and Employment further revealed that three out of every five establishments engaged the services of contractors in June 2014.
The challenge for the trade union movement is how to widen its reach to other workers, especially those in non-standard forms of employment. It is vital to empower them to provide quality workers’ representation at all stages of the assessment process, from joint assessments and monitoring of remediation plans. This would require newer organizing and union education models, platforms and strategies. This would also require going beyond fragmentation towards synergies and joint actions between trade unions.
IndustriALL, being a global union federation, is in a unique position to serve as catalyst in this process, since all major trade union centres in the country are either affiliated or have sectoral federations affiliated with them.
Your recommendations and consensus are important to determine pilot ground-level joint actions among different trade union centres – whether it be within an enterprise, within an industry or within a specific geographical area. These joint ground level actions could help bring about tangible results for workers on the shop-floor, such as joint awareness-raising programmes, sharing of information and good practices, union to union twinning or mentoring process, or joint partnerships with tripartite bodies.
Finally, let me acknowledge each of you for your presence and support. Thank you joining this national consultation and for being a voice of the Filipino workers that you represent. I wish you all a productive consultation and successful dialogue.