RSCA in Action

Planting the seed for responsible business conduct in the Philippines

As part of its continuing drive to engage future business leaders the Responsible Supply Chains in Asia programme conducted training in conjunction Ateneo de Manila University, for 67 economics and political science students

Article | 27 November 2020
Webinar students and presenters
Manila (ILO News) -. Students of Ateneo de Manila University have been introduced to the key arguments for respecting labour rights and the benefits this brings to both business and the Philippine economy.

The online seminar, Workshop on Decent Work in Global Supply Chains, introduced participants to the core principles of corporate social responsibility (CSR), international labour standards and the role of decent work in promoting business efficiency and economic prosperity.

The RSCA programme is funded by the European Union. In welcoming remarks, the Eu’s Head of Trade and Economic Affairs in the Philippines, Mr Maurizio Cellini, explained the EU's strategy is to ensure that economic development is accompanied by social justice, respect for human and labour rights and environmental standards.

This policy is a response to the increasing demand from European consumers to be assured not only about the quality and safety of the products they buy but how they are made. He stressed that the EU does not seek to impose standards on the Philippines, but is rather emphasising “already shared values” as exemplified by the (Philippines) governments’ commitment to the SDGs.

The potentially adverse impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on supply chains in the country was also stressed. Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, International Labour Organization Country Office for the Philippines, noted that “the promotion of decent work in global supply chains is critical now within the context of COVID-19, with its threat to employers and workers.”

In his opening remarks, Dean of the School of Social Sciences, Professor Fernando T. Aldaba spoke on the need for ‘responsible labour governance’ and CSR in supply chains to ensure that the benefits of global value chains are shared with workers.

It was a sentiment echoed by the head of the RSCA programme and main presenter of the training, Fredy Guayacan. He explained that while GSCs have contributed ‘enormously’ to economic growth, job creation, poverty reduction, and entrepreneurship, they also face many severe challenges, including poor working conditions, lack of labour standard and laws enforcement, and a high proportion of informality.

“Essentially, decent work is about labour dignity and rights,” he said. He went on to explain that well-implemented government and business policies on CSR will also bring broader benefits.
“Internally, it improves productivity, is a part of the risk management and raises competitiveness. Externally, CSR and RBC match the expectation from buyers and consumers, linking to brand reputational risk-management, it creates more access to financing tools, and helps companies meet their legal obligations,” said Guayacan.
Presentering at the event were (from left) Hideki Kagohashi (ILO), Diana Mendoza (Ateneo) and Fredy Guayacan (RSCA)

The course was anchored around two sessions, one on the role of the ILO, its standards principles, and the key tenets of corporate social responsibility: the second focused on labour governance in global supply chains and involved a case study. The study was presented by Walter Lin of Sedex Asia, a business membership organisation providing platforms for companies to manage and improve working conditions in global supply chains. Lin described how two well-known brands worked to lift standards in their GSC business operations through a process of risk identification and assessment and addressing decent work deficits.

These sessions were followed by group discussions and an opportunity for students to pose questions to the key presenters.