Labour inspection

Opening address at the Executive Course on Managing the Inspectorate for Strategic Labour Laws Compliance

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the Executive Course on Managing the Inspectorate for Strategic Labour Laws Compliance, Quezon City, Philippines, 3 October 2018

Statement | Quezon City, Philippines | 03 October 2018
  • Undersecretary Maglunsod, Director Cucueco, Regional Directors, Field Directors, and officials of the Department of Labor and Employment;
  • Mr Bitonio, project partners and distinguished guests;
  • Ladies and gentlemen, good morning!
It is a pleasure to join you today and to congratulate you for making this Executive Course on Managing the Inspectorate for Strategic Labour Laws Compliance, possible.

This course is supported by the ILO US Department of Labor-funded project on Building the Capacity of the Philippines’ Labour Inspectorate. It is a follow up to the series of trainings to strengthen the labour inspectorate, which the ILO has been conducting together with the DOLE’s Bureau of Working Conditions. The training courses for labour inspectors are based on key provisions of ILO Convention 81 on Labour Inspection in Commerce and Industry.

Next year, the ILO will celebrate its centenary as the only United Nations specialized agency with the mandate of advancing social justice and promoting decent work. The ILO’s centenary is an opportunity to highlight the role of international labour standards in ensuring that social justice is at the heart of development.

Labour inspection as a monitoring and an enforcement tool plays a very critical role in ensuring that the ILO’s international labour standards system and its supervisory mechanisms work effectively for all working man and woman, ensuring that no one is left behind.

With the drastic changes in the world of work, labour inspectors and their managers all over the world are faced with the daunting task of keeping up with all these changes, unmasking violations, and enforcing the law to ensure decent work for all.

The ILO hopes that his three-day course, would contribute to DOLE’s efforts for more strategic inspections. After all, the end goal of a labour inspectorate is not to visit all enterprises, but to change behaviour so labour laws compliance becomes an integrated part of doing business no matter how small.

Strategic labour laws compliance requires a whole-of-government approach, where DOLE can serve as a catalyst. Strategic compliance requires prioritization, deterrence, sustainability, and systemic effects.

First, prioritization to look at where are the violations and the most vulnerable workers in regions, sectors or even in occupations with very low union density or collective bargaining coverage.

Second, deterrence is when the threat of an inspection and the cost of penalties becomes a prohibitive factor to non-compliance. But deterrence also requires uniformity and consistency in the application of laws and procedures.

Third, strategic compliance also requires achieving systemic-wide effects in the process addressing drivers of non-compliance.

This requires the inspectorate from the national to the regional and field levels, to ask why businesses do not comply. This requires looking at what incentives and disincentive mechanisms are present to support compliance.

For instance with information available at a swipe, consumer behaviours are changing. Purchasing patterns or decisions are no longer just based on cost, but also considerations on whether basic human rights including workers’ rights were fully respected in the production process.

We now find global brands coming up with sustainable and responsible business practices, investing in social audits, and working with local communities to ensure their supply chains are free from child labour, slave labour, trafficking and are fully compliant with international and national labour and even environmental laws.

Lastly, sustainability of the results of labour inspection and enforcement activities should be considered, looking at how to make compliance to labour laws more lasting, going beyond just the conduct of inspections.

For compliance to become sustainable requires strengthening the capacity of social partners – workers’ and employers’ organizations to engage in meaningful social dialogue at the enterprise level. This will help ensure compliance or set up mechanisms to address issues of noncompliance.

Through social dialogue, they can negotiate and bargain on how working conditions can go beyond just mere compliance, how to increase productivity and competitiveness, and how workers can get a fair share.

Sustainability also requires us working with social partners at the regional, sectoral, industry and national levels to engage in meaningful dialogue to assess why enterprises do not comply, make or recommend changes in labour policy if needed, and implement initiatives that can contribute to improved compliance.

More work needs to be done to ensure that no one is left behind, especially in sectors with high levels of informality, in complex sectors where workers are extremely vulnerable and underrepresented such as in fishing, agriculture and mining.

The ILO though is confident, that with the commitment of DOLE, trade unions and employers we can broaden reforms in the labour inspectorate to ensure that as economies grow, no worker is left behind and that social justice is at the centre of growth and development.

Again, our sincerest thanks and congratulations to DOLE BWC, and the DOLE Regional Offices and I wish you a successful and productive training.

Thank you!