Tuesday, December 6, 2011

PM: Philippines off course regarding labor rights

Press Release
December 6, 2011

Days before the commemoration of International Human Rights Day, the labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) called the attention of the government to the critical report issued by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) regarding the observance of core labor standards in the Philippines. “The Philippines is not on the right track but off course as far as labor rights is concerned,” declared Renato Magtubo, PM chair.

The global union body said that “In view of restrictions on the trade union rights of workers, discrimination, child labour, and forced labour, determined measures are needed to comply with the commitments” of the country to the World Trade Organization and the International Labor Organization.

Magtubo said that “The ITUC report is a wake up call to PNoy and Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz that rhetoric is far from reality. The violations of core labor standards detailed in the report are in stark contrast to the avowed aim of the administration to align our country’s labor policies with international treaties and ILO conventions.”

The critique was contained in the ITUC REPORT FOR THE WTO GENERAL COUNCIL REVIEW OF THE TRADE POLICIES OF PHILIPPINES (Geneva, 22 and 24 November 2011) which is posted at http://www.ituc-csi.org/IMG/pdf/wto_review.pdf.

Magtubo insisted that “Among the damning conclusions reached by the ITUC is that union rights are restricted in law and practice.” He quoted from the report that “There is an environment of violence and intimidation against trade unions. Employers and state authorities make use of anti-union practices in order to curb unions' rights.”

The ITUC report also rapped the Aquino administration for its decision to allow the outsourcing plan of Philippine Airlines. The report asserted that “The increasing replacement of long-term employment contracts with subcontracted or contractual labor curtails union membership.” To support this conclusion, the report cited that “Another example of the increasing contractualisation of employment is PAL… In February 2011, PAL announced $15.1 million profits and one month later, the government gave the company permission to continue with its outsourcing plan.”

“The ITUC report further confirms the accusation of labor groups that labor rights in general and union organizing in particular is severely constrained in the export procession zones,” Magtubo averred. He again quoted from the ITUC report that “When a union is organized the management of the special economic zones (EPZs) or individual companies file lawsuits to frighten union leaders or threaten that they will file for bankruptcy. This was the case of the garment producer, Alta Mode Inc, in the Mactan EPZ II in Lapu-Lapu City.”

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