Opening address at the ILO project on Trade for decent work and social dialogue on improved compliance, better application of International Labour Standards and COVID-19 responses

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the ILO project on Trade for decent work and social dialogue on improved compliance, better application of International Labour Standards and COVID-19 responses, 14 December 2020, Manila, Philippines via Zoom

Statement | Manila, Philippines via Zoom | 14 December 2020
  • Our major development partner, the European Union (EU) Delegation to the Philippines, headed by its honourable charge d’affaires, Mr Thomas Wiersing, and Mr Maurizio Cellini, trade counsellor;
  • Undersecretary Benavidez and DOLE officials, Assistant Secretary Gepty and DTI officials,
  • Atty Tanag of the Cavite Economic Zone and PEZA officials,
  • Chairperson Montano of PCW,
  • Distinguished representatives from national government agencies;
  • Our dear constituents from both the labour sector, represented by the various trade unions,ECOP, and other business groups;
  • Ladies and gentlemen, a very pleasant afternoon to you all!
I would like to warmly welcome you to the National Tripartite Consultative Workshop of ILO Projects that will address the following:
  • Trade for Decent Work focusing on social dialogue for improved labour law compliance, especially freedom of association and right to collective bargaining; and
  • Support policy and legislative reforms, including COVID-19 responses, based on international labour standards.
We greatly appreciate the EU for their continued collaboration with the ILO through this Trade for Decent Work Project. This partnership supports the Philippines in addressing the most challenging issues covered by fundamental Conventions under the EU Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP+). These are freedom of association and right to collective bargaining.

As it is implemented in a time of global pandemic, the project also supports partners in addressing COVID-19. There have been ongoing challenges on respect for labour rights and compliance with labour standards, especially on freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated these challenges in many countries, including the Philippines.

The country is also one of the EU GSP+ beneficiaries. Better application of international labour standards and improved compliance becomes even more important, to fully benefit from the EU GSP+ and successfully recover from the aftermath of the pandemic.

Doing so can contribute to better investment opportunities and job creation during these challenging times through labour law compliance, and not the other way around.

Through this EU partnership, we aim to support the Philippines’ increased global comparative advantage through compliance as good business practice. This will cover selected industries like agriculture, fisheries, and garments, especially in economic zones.

More importantly, this will promote international labour standards as policy framework, tools and strategies for effective engagement of tripartite partners. Social dialogue is key to this to lead towards national compliance.

Responsible business conduct starts with treating our workers, our people, our clients and even our very own businesses right, fair and just.

All of us – workers, employers, government and the international community have a role to play.

On the EU trade policy, we have an opportunity today to learn more from Counsellor Cellini, who will join us in the first plenary discussion and share the EU’s rights-based trade framework.

Let me also highlight that these projects will contribute to Labour Market Governance country outcome under the Decent Work Country Programme Philippines (DWCP).  The DWCP is a result of extensive consultations led by DOLE, with ILO support. The DWCP articulates outcomes and priorities in the Philippines that the government, workers and employers will jointly achieve.

Similarly, these projects highlight the results to be delivered by the Philippines’ social partners based on its commitment through the ratification of the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Conventions, 1948 (No. 87) and Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98) and the ripartite Consultation (International Labour Standards) Convention, 1976 (No. 144)..

We hope that the Philippines will ultimately report more progress and results, when sending updates for EU GSP+ or to the ILO supervisory mechanisms.

Through this workshop, we have an opportunity to determine how to measure results and finalize the project’s work plan and targets. We will also discuss specific sectors and regions that will be covered to support partners in delivering concrete results.

To achieve this, I look forward to your active participation. Your voices matter to put forward all your key inputs and suggestions.

In closing, let me thank the DOLE, DTI, PEZA, workers and employers for their collaboration and partnership in making this workshop possible. I wish you all a productive collaboration.

Maraming salamat po!