Value chains

Review of the Voluntary Code of Good Practices on Decent Work in the Banana Industry

A tripartite guide is improving working conditions in a significant Philippine industry

Article | Manila, Philippines | 20 October 2021
The International Labour Organization (ILO) held a technical meeting on 20 October 2021 via Zoom with partners from the government, employers, and workers organizations, to review and update the Voluntary Code of Good Practices (VCGP) on decent work in the banana industry in Region XI in the Philippines.

This technical meeting was jointly organized by the ILO "Responsible Supply Chains in Asia" programme (RSCA) and the ILO project on "Improving Workers' Rights in the Rural Sectors of the Indo-Pacific with a focus on Women" (Rural Sectors' Project), with support from the European Union (EU); and the US Department of Labor (US DOL) respectively,

In his opening statement, ILO CO-Manila Director Khalid Hassan said, "Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) is very much linked in advancing social justice and promoting decent work…A human-centred approach in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic is vital as outlined in the Global Call to Action for a fully inclusive, sustainable, and resilient recovery".

Other speakers in the opening programme included the Acting Regional Director of the Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE) and Chairperson of the Banana Industry Tripartite Council (BITC) in Region XI, Atty Randolph Pensoy, Employers Confederation of the Philippines President Sergio Luis Ortiz, BITC Vice-Chairperson for the Workers Sector Samuel Cardeno and BiTC Vice-Chairperson for the Management Sector Beatrice Francia.

All speakers lauded the technical dialogue as strengthening the VCGP can improve the banana industry, an essential contributor to the nation's economy.

ILO Programme Manager Fredy Guayacan of the Responsible Supply Chain in Asia Programme provided a briefing on the MNE Declaration and its relevance to updating the VCGP and the salient findings of the ILO study on the fruit and vegetable supply chain and CSR/RBC towards social and economic upgrading.

The more than 30 participants were later divided into two breakout groups to discuss specific parts or components of the VCGP that needs amendment and new provisions/components, which can help address the issues and challenges identified by the stakeholders during two previous dialogues.

Among others, the participants have put forward the following recommendations - translating the VCGP into a strategic plan with clear targets capacity building on labour inspection specific to the banana industry, the Municipal Agricultural Officers on technical advisory services to small farmers, and the workers' union in reaching out and engaging workers in small farm growers; engaging and orienting small growers about labour compliance, and promotion of OSH Committees and programmes;