Freedom of Association

Opening address at the Tripartite Project Launch of the ILO EU GSP+ on Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the Tripartite Project Launch of the ILO EU GSP+ on Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining

Statement | Manila, Philippines | 13 September 2017
  • Undersecretary Maglunsod, Director Benavidez and officials of the Department of Labor and Employment;
  • Mr Van Hattum, Head of the Economic and Trade Section of the EU Delegation to the Philippines;
  • Distinguished officials and representatives from the government, workers and employers’ organizations,
  • Honourable representatives from the Supreme Court, Senate and Congress,
  • Law enforcers, police and military officials,
  • Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, good morning!
Welcome and thank you for joining this launch of a tripartite project on Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining.

Let me also thank the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for organizing and convening this important event.

In these interesting times, it is important to highlight the role of basic fundamental rights and principles that contribute in keeping intact the social fabric of a society. Fundamental human freedoms and rights serve as crucial and institutional guide posts as our global and local communities move forward.

Today, we affirm the significance of safeguarding our fundamental freedoms as we launch the ILO EU GSP+ project on freedom of association and collective bargaining.

The ILO EU GSP+ project is a timely and collaborative project among government, employers and workers organizations to promote better application of the freedom of association and collective bargaining rights. This is within the context of advancing investments, trade and inclusive growth in the country.

The Philippines was among the first countries to ratify ILO Convention 87 or the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, and the ILO Convention 98 or the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention in 1953.

ILO Convention 87 guarantees the right of workers and employers, without distinction or discrimination, to exercise their freedom to form and join organizations to collectively and independently promote their interests in society.

In the same vein, ILO Convention 98 guarantees protection of the right of workers to organize and collectively bargain for their conditions of work without interference, discrimination and intimidation.

These Conventions are enshrined under the 1987 Philippine Constitution and Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Philippine Constitution guarantees the right of the Filipino people, employed in the public and private sectors, to form unions, associations and societies.

Meanwhile, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights promote the rights to free choice of employment, pay equity, just remuneration and right to form and join trade unions to protect their interests.

However, despite being signatory to these Conventions and the Philippine government continuously striving to improve the application of these principles, we are aware that challenges and issues remain.

The Philippine application of Convention 87 and 98 has been discussed twice in the Committee on the Application of Standards (CAS), an ILO Supervisory Body in 2007 and in 2016 as part of the International Labour Conference.

To address challenges, the Philippines has accepted the High Level Mission, which took place in 2009 and the Direct Contacts Mission, which happened in February this year. Several policy reforms, measures and mechanisms were undertaken since then by the Philippines.

However, recent comments and observations from the ILO supervisory bodies provide opportunities to further strengthen implementation.

The 2017 Direct Contacts Mission and the latest observations Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR) highlighted remaining concerns on unresolved allegations of anti-union violence and lack of progress in the investigations and legislative reforms.

The ILO EU GSP+ project on freedom of association and collective bargaining is part of the ILO’s technical assistance to address gaps. This will not be possible without the funding support from the European Commission DG Trade, of which we are grateful.

Finally but significantly, we would like to commend and to welcome the initiative of DOLE to sign today a tripartite Manifesto. The Manifesto highlights partnership and collective action of government, workers, employers and partners to promote and to observe principles of freedom of association and collective bargaining.

The Manifesto will further strengthen the social dialogue framework in the context of guaranteeing rights and freedoms, at the same time promoting inclusive growth, investments, and trade in the Philippines.

In this endeavour, ILO fully lends its support towards strengthening freedom of association and collective bargaining in the Philippines. I wish you great success and all the best!

Thank you!