Trade and employment

Opening address at the ILO-EU STRENGTHEN (Trade and Employment Project: National Tripartite Conference on Trade and Labour Standards

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the ILO-EU STRENGTHEN (Trade and Employment Project: National Tripartite Conference on Trade and Labour Standards, Makati City, Philippines, 11 October 2017

Statement | Makati, Philippines | 11 October 2017
  • Undersecretary Maglunsod of the Department of Labor and Employment
  • Assistant Secretary Vizmonte of the Department of Trade and Industry
  • Mr van Hattum, Head of Trade of the EU Delegation to the Philippines,
  • Ms Curtis, Deputy Director for Standards from the ILO Headquarters
  • Distinguished officials, guests and representatives from government agencies, workers’ and employers’ organizations, and civil society,
  • Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, good morning!
Welcome to the National Tripartite Conference on Trade and Labour Standards. Thank you for your presence and continued support to ensure decent work and a fair globalization.

We are all aware that there can be no honest, frank and forthright discussion on trade and labour standards without talking about globalization. After all, globalization has brought about the urgency and the need to address issues related to labour standards in the context of international trade.

Globalization has many aspects and facets. And that depending on people, globalization could mean a lot of things. On the one hand, globalization could mean new opportunities for interconnectedness, faster communication and exchange of goods and services, new business activities and closer cooperation. On the other hand, globalization could also mean heightened social tensions, reinforced social and economic inequalities, and the loss of jobs and domestic industries.

But for us in the ILO, our globalization should be fair, just and inclusive, in which no one is left behind and everyone is included in the process – a process that should be democratically-governed with tangible benefits for all countries and its peoples.

In this regard, the ILO Declaration on Social Justice and Fair Globalization, adopted in 2008, serves as our guide to approaching issues of trade in relation to labour standards. The Declaration expresses the universality of the Decent Work Agenda based on strategic objectives - employment, social protection, social dialogue and rights at work. The Declaration, stresses at the same time, a holistic and integrated approach by recognizing that these objectives are inseperable, interrelated and mutually supportive. It highlights ensuring the role of international labour standards as a useful means of achieving all of them.

Leaving no one behind by promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all is part of the Sustainable Development Goals, specifically Goal 8. One of the targets under Goal 8 is to increase aid for trade support for developing countries. It is for this reason that we are having not only this Conference but also the STRENGTHEN (Trade and Employment) Project in the Philippines, on the overall, to support the government, workers’ and employers’ organizations together with partners and stakeholders in coming up with better and more inclusive trade and employment policies and programmes that work for all.

In the context of our discussions for the next two days, it is encouraging to note that the Philippines has been a leader when it comes to ratifying most ILO conventions, particularly the eight (8) core conventions on freedom of association, collective bargaining, forced labour, abolition of forced labour, minimum age, child labour, equal remuneration and non-discrimination, which are vital to observing and enforcing labour standards.

Through the years, the Philippines has enacted laws and implemented policies and programmes on the issues being addressed by the core conventions, such as guaranteeing of the rights to organize and collective bargaining under the Constitution and the Labour Code, laws against child labour, and laws on gender equality and non-discrimination in the workplace, among many others.

Yet, despite these gains and achievements, challenges remain, especially with regard to compliance with labour standards.

As such, through this Tripartite Conference, we would be able to appreciate more the importance of international labour standards in helping create a fairer and much more inclusive economy and workplaces.

International labour standards should be seen as a means to ensuring that trade works for all and that everyone benefits from globalization, without leaving anyone behind. It should also be seen as a mechanism and a platform to foster dialogue among various stakeholders as well as an instrument to address workers’ grievances and labour violations and to ensure that governments and businesses uphold and observe human rights and labour rights.

It is also our hope that through and after this Conference, we will come together to discuss ways forward on how we can collectively address issues on trade and labour standards, given that globally, there is now a growing trend in incorporating and integrating labour provisions and decent work principles in various trade agreements and arrangements.

Also, it is encouraging to note that more and more trade agreements and arrangements (including the EU GSP Plus programme, of which the Philippines is a beneficiary) are now including labour provisions and clauses and references to decent work and labour standards. In addition to this, it is now an ongoing trend among governments and enterprises to make global supply or value chains more inclusive, responsive and responsible through the conduct of labour-responsive and socially responsible business activities, policies and operations.

In this regard, it is our hope that through this conference, each of you will have a better understanding and greater appreciation of the role that international labour standards play in ensuring a better and more inclusive trade and economic environment for all towards a decent work and a fair globalization.

Your active participation is vital to ensure a successful dialogue. Your continued support is also crucial to ensure that international labour standards are applied both in law and in practice, especially in trade and employment.

Thank you as I wish you all the best!