Opening address at the Responsible labour practices to achieve inclusive and sustainable business in the rural sectors in agriculture

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the Responsible labour practices to achieve inclusive and sustainable business in the rural sectors in agriculture, 15 February 2022, Manila, Philippines

Statement | Manila, Philippines | 15 February 2022
Warm greetings on behalf of the ILO, and the project on Improving Workers’ Rights in the Rural Sectors of the Indo-Pacific with a focus on Women. First, I would like to acknowledge the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) for supporting and making this project possible.

  • Greetings to our government partners, led by the Department of Labor and Employment, and national government agencies;
  • Brothers and sisters from trade unions and workers’ organizations, including from rural and informal sectors;
  • Mr Sergio Ortiz-Luis, Jr, Mr. Jose Roland Moya and officials of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines;
  • Partners from sectoral employers’ organizations and businesses;
  • Colleagues, participants, ladies and gentlemen. Good afternoon!
I am pleased to welcome you all to today’s online webinar. This is the first of the three online sectoral webinars organized by the ILO and the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) with stakeholders from the agriculture, fishing and mining sub-sectors.

Through these online webinars, we aim to raise awareness of the benefits and importance of compliance to labour standards and sectoral good practices, and provide a platform for social dialogue on key development and issues relevant to labour standards, occupational safety and health and gender equality, and how it can be applied to the rural sectors of agriculture, fishing and mining.

Agriculture is one of the few employment generators even during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. It contributes to 24 per cent increase in employment share, with 282,000 jobs generated in the last quarter of 2020.1

However, agriculture remains to be a sector highly characterized by poverty and poor working conditions, especially at the lower tiers of the supply chain in rural areas.

The situation of women workers in agriculture are at a much disadvantage, which was worsened due to the pandemic.

Globally, there is also a growing demand for businesses to ensure responsible business practices and due diligence within their supply or value chains.

More and more countries are integrating labour provisions in trade policies and agreements, helping promote compliance to labour standards, including occupational safety and health and gender equality.

Compliance to labour standards is good for businesses. It is aligned with the ILO’s Global Call to Action for a human-centred recovery from the COVID-19 crisis that is inclusive, sustainable and resilient.

It helps increase productivity and economic performance of enterprises, contrary to the belief that it is costly. It is not only for the protection of workers, but it also considers the needs of enterprises for productivity and sustainability.

Addressing decent work deficits in agriculture is integral to the ILO agenda. It is consistent with the goals and priorities set by the government, employers and workers’ organizations under the Decent Work Country Programme and the National Employment Recovery Strategy (NERS) to help restore the country’s economy and labour market.

And through social dialogue with the government and workers’ groups, employers can discuss issues of common interest and identify key recommendations towards improved compliance to labour standards, occupational safety and health, and gender equality in the rural sectors.

With your active participation in this webinar and continuous cooperation in future engagements, I am hopeful that we can bring significant, positive outcome to make your businesses grow stronger and improve the lives and working conditions of the rural workers in the agriculture, leaving no one behind.

I wish you all a productive and successful webinar today, and count on your strong support. May the results of this engagement lead us closer towards making decent work a reality in the rural sector!

1Source: National Economic Development Authority, January 2021