· Distinguished officials of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), its Bureaus and attached agencies
· Undersecretary Ardeliza Medenilla of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)
· Director Florencio Atinyao of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines
· Partners from the Department of Education, Department of Health, Philippine Statistical Authority, Social Security System, and Philippine Red Cross
· Partners from the workers’ and employers’ organization
Guests, ladies and gentlemen, a pleasant good morning!
We are gathered here to discuss occupational safety and health and in particular the global OSH project – Safe and Healthy Youth -- funded by the United States Department of Labor, which the International Labour Organization is piloting in the country until December 2018. Your presence here today indicates your commitment to work with us on this project, which has a special focus on young workers aged 15 to 24 years.
The ILO has been a global leader advocating OSH compliance to its member states, recognizing that occupational injuries, disease and deaths have a negative effect on productivity and on economic and social development. It is a fact that the even temporary absence of a worker in an enterprise due to occupational accident or illness adversely affects the daily operations of an enterprise. The impact of a debilitating workplace accident or fatality has even harsher consequences when the victim is the sole source of support for a family. The loss of a breadwinner can impoverish a family, and in aggregate harms the national economy as an effect of lower local consumption.
Three years ago, the Philippine Government issued an endorsement for the ratification of Convention 187 or the Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health of 2006. This convention provides the core framework for establishing an OSH national system in the country that addresses gaps in national policy, improves OSH data, strengthens or develops relevant OSH programmes, and capacitates partners and direct service providers. At present, we still await for the ratification of this convention.
National efforts to strengthen OSH compliance gained momentum following the death of 70 people in May 2015 due to a factory fire in Valenzuela City. Unfortunately, our drive to strengthen OSH national legislation still requires committed advocacy from our tripartite partners. Given other pending national issues, and the reality that we are transitioning to a new administration, it is incumbent upon all of us to ensure that our focus on the welfare of workers, and young workers in particular, remains steadfast.
While we continue to await the ratification of the ILO convention and enactment of several OSH-related bills from our legislators, we should redouble our efforts to ensure the safety and health of workers, particularly our young workers in the Philippines. It is for this very reason we are gathered today to look at the opportunity presented beforehand to work with our organization through this global project.
We recognize that to improve the working conditions of workers and develop a culture of prevention in the Philippines, several issues need to be addressed:
a) Firstly, we need a comprehensive picture of our workers’ conditions; better data pertaining to where are our workers and how safe and healthy are they is something we need to strive for. Having a comprehensive OSH picture of our workers will help us identify issues that affect them, which we can integrate in our national planning and programming efforts.
b) Secondly, we need to review our legislation and policies to ensure that they are still relevant to our cause. Are our legislation and policies ‘soft’ or ‘hard’ on violators, and do we have legislations and policies that enjoin workers’ and employers’ organizations to implement interventions that would capacitate their members.
c) Thirdly, we need to review existing programmes that promote OSH to make them more meaningful. These programmes need to integrate young workers which constitute a big percentage of the labour force. We need interventions that are not solely implemented by the government, but is strongly promoting tripartism in the country.
d) Fourthly, let us determine the capacity of our tripartite partners. What do they need in terms of capacity building to be strengthened in implementing their OSH interventions? Having more partners to work on OSH will help attain our vision of safe and healthy workers through convergence.
e) Lastly, we need to assess good practices of other countries that have been successful in OSH promotion and compliance. Let us see possibility for replication in our country and in the process also document our methods.
This global project squarely addresses the aforementioned issues, in which we underpin the establishment of an OSH national system.
The Department of Labor and Employment is currently updating the Labor and Employment Plan or LEP for 2016 to 2022 that covers issues relating to labour standards and OSH. We are working with the department to ensure that OSH issues are elevated and strategic interventions are identified to address these. Likewise, we are also working with the labour inspection project, also funded by USDOL, to strengthen OSH integration in the regulatory processes.
Parallel to these initiatives, the project will be working with its tripartite partners who are in this room. Let us work together to improve OSH data collection, review and endorse OSH legislations and policies, develop a meaningful OSH national programme, strengthen capacities of tripartite partners to implement OSH interventions, strengthen institutions and structures to integrate OSH in their agenda, and more importantly, institutionalize an educational campaign that will relate to our workers and their families, and to employers.
In concert with the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs, let us not simply promote employment but decent work for all. We envision that as our country attains a sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, our workers regardless if adults or youth, are safe and healthy.
Thank you and I look forward to a productive meeting.
Funding is provided by the United States Department of Labor under cooperative agreement number IL-26690-14-75-K-11.
This material does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the United States Department of Labor, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the United States Government. One hundred percentage of the total costs of the project or programme is financed with Federal funds, for a total of 11,443,156 dollars.