The Philippines was amongst the first countries to adopt "decent work and productive employment" as an explicit objective of its national development plan and as a central instrument of poverty reduction. At 30 per cent of the population, the incidence of poverty is high. Three quarters of the poor live in rural areas. The present rate of job creation does not match the fast growth labour force. Most employment opportunities are found in low-productivity and poor-quality work in the informal economy.
Based on an analysis of decent work deficits that the tripartite partners and the ILO jointly undertook in 2001, the Philippines' Decent Work Action Plan was launched in May 2002. The Action Plan supports initiatives of the social partners and of national and local institutions around the twin national priorities, reducing poverty and promoting decent and productive employment.
It includes a set of actions that specifically pursue progress on each of the four decent work strategic objectives - employment promotion, social protection, fundamental principles and basic rights at work, and social dialogue.
The constituents have also identified national priorities that call for integrated responses. Foremost of these is poverty reduction in rural areas where it is most severe. While national and sectoral policies and institutions provide the broad parameters for growth, employment and poverty reduction, local governments have been given a major responsibility in directing and devising poverty reduction programmes. The Action Plan therefore places emphasis on incorporating decent work into the local development and poverty reduction agenda.
The Action Plan is the overall framework for ILO support to national initiatives. Work on a number of decent work initiatives is in progress. This includes efforts to design a Philippine Labour Index that will monitor progress with respect to the achievement of decent work, the formulation of an analytical framework for assessing the impact of trade liberalization on employment in selected sectors, and development of practical methods for reducing decent work deficits in the urban informal economy.
As a major part of the Decent Work Action Plan, the "Local Development and Decent Work" component (LDDW component) aims at developing and demonstrating an approach to local development and poverty reduction. This approach is built around decent work, developed and field-tested at the local level in the Philippines.
The LDDW component faces three main challenges:
- Make the promotion of decent work an EXPLICIT objective in local development planning and design of development and poverty reduction strategies/programs.
- Demonstrate a practical approach (methods, means, guidelines) to decent work at the local level, which fits within existing local planning and decentralisation frameworks.
- Help bring about concrete changes in local development and poverty reduction strategies.
Together with national, regional and local partners in the country, the ILO has produced a "Local Development and Decent Work Resource Kit". This kit is a collection of practical, easy-to-use "tools" for local planners, local institutions and development practitioners. It aims at enabling users to make choices and implement actions from an integrated (economic and social development) perspective.
Work is underway to apply and validate the Resource Kit in specific local contexts and to generate practical experience on the use of the kit and the approach in general.