Opening address at the Technical Meeting for the Review and Updating of the Voluntary Code of Good Conduct on Decent Work for the Banana Industry in Region XI

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the Technical Meeting for the Review and Updating of the Voluntary Code of Good Conduct on Decent Work for the Banana Industry in Region XI, 20 October 2021, Manila and Davao, Philippines via Zoom

Statement | Manila and Davao, Philippines via Zoom | 20 October 2021
  • Partners from DOLE led by Acting Regional Director Randolph Pensoy and Chairperson of the Banana Industry Tripartite Council or BITC
  • Mr Sergio Ortiz-Luis, Jr., and officials of ECOP,
  • Mr Samuel Cardeno, Vice-Chairperson for the Workers’ Sector of the BITC
  • Ms Betty Francia, Vice-Chairperson for the Management Sector of BITC
  • Brothers and sisters from workers organizations,
  • Representatives from enterprises in the banana industry in Region XI,
  • ILO colleagues, partners, and guests,
  • Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon!
Warm welcome to this dialogue and technical meeting. This dialogue will review and update the Voluntary Code of Good Conduct on Decent Work in the Banana Industry, which you refer to as VCGP. It will focus on the banana industries in Region XI .

We appreciate your presence and count on your support to promote corporate social responsibility/ responsible business conduct in the context of decent work.

Responsible business conduct is very much linked to advancing social justice, and promoting decent work.

It also contributes to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and the Decent Work Country Programme of the Philippines.

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.

Social dialogue in the fruit industry, and in particular the banana sector with the government, banana enterprises, and the labour sector will lead to a common understanding of expectations, and issues on roles and responsibilities.

Partners play important roles based on the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy, known as the MNE Declaration.

Through this technical meeting, we aim to contribute in reviewing and making the VCGP more relevant. Hopefully, the revised Code will reflect more strongly the principles contained in the MNE Declaration and that its implementation will indeed lead to better working conditions, and decent work opportunities in the banana industries.

The banana industry contributes to the country’s economy, and its international economic relations. In 2019, banana remained to be among the country’s leading agricultural export commodities according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.

Within the said year, the Philippines exported a total of 4.4 million metric tons of bananas, which posted a value of 101.1 billion pesos.

Though the country reaps enormous economic benefits from the banana industry, challenges remain in its supply chains. This is in relation to labour rights, environment and human rights.

Workers in the fruit industries like banana are often in vulnerable employment, without labour and social protection, and under poor or dangerous working conditions.

The ILO Responsible Supply Chains in Asia (RSCA) Project conducted a study on fruit and vegetable supply chain, which focused on the banana sector. The key findings of this study will be shared later today.

In closing, let me wish you all a meaningful and successful dialogue. We all look forward to a more relevant VCGP as its ultimate output – one that would strongly reflect the principles that need to adhere towards achieving decent work in the industry.

Thank you!