Freedom of Association

Opening Address at the Capacity Building Seminar of Selected NTIPC-MB, RTMB and CHR Representatives on Case Build-up and Documentation

By Ms Diane Lynn Respall, Programme Officer delivered on behalf of Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the Capacity Building Seminar of selected NTIPC-MB, RTMB and CHR representatives on case build-up and documentation, Davao City, Philippines, 8 March 2018

Statement | Davao, Philippines | 08 March 2018
  • Undersecretary Maglunsod, Regional Director Agravante along with officials of the Department of Labor and Employment,
  • Distinguished representatives of government agencies;
  • Participants from the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council-Monitoring Body (NTIPC-MB), Regional Tripartite Monitoring Body (RTMB), and the Commission on Human Rights;
  • Resource speakers and experts from the Philippine National Police, Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation.
  • Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, good morning to all of you!
Thank you for being part of this Capacity Building Seminar on Case Build-up and Documentation. Your presence is much appreciated.

Our Director, Mr Khalid Hassan would like to join us today but he has an equally important activity in Manila. He would like to convey his best wishes for the success of this seminar.

This national tripartite capacity building seminar for representatives of the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Councils-Monitoring Body, the Regional Tripartite Monitoring Body and the Commission on Human Rights is a timely and important initiative.

This will not be possible without the continued partnership with the Department of Labor and Employment - Bureau of Labor Relations, workers’ and employers’ organizations, and the funding support of the European Union, of which we are grateful.

The Philippines has expressed its commitment in addressing challenges in the implementation of ratified ILO Conventions, specifically the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention or Convention 87 and Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention or Convention 98.

This was evident in the signing of the tripartite Manifesto as part of the launch of the ILO European Union Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (EU GSP+) Project on Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining.

The Philippines was among the first countries to ratify Conventions 87 and 98. ILO Convention 87 guarantees the right of workers and employers, without distinction or discrimination, to exercise their freedom to form and join organizations to collectively and independently promote their interests in society.

While Convention 98 guarantees protection of the right of workers to organize and collectively bargain for their conditions of work without interference, discrimination and intimidation. These Conventions will be further presented and discussed later today.

Over the last 10 years, there were challenges in the implementation of the Conventions 87 and 98, as discussed twice by the Committee on the Application of Standards in 2007 and in 2016. Most recent comments and recommendations of the Committee of Experts in 2016 and the Direct Contacts Mission in 2017 highlighted concerns to address some alleged cases of anti-union violence, including slow progress in investigations of cases on labour-related human rights abuses.

Monitoring and investigative mechanisms are in place such as the Regional Tripartite Monitoring Body (RTMB); the AO35 Inter-Agency Committee on Extra-Legal Killings, Enforced Disappearances, Torture and Other Grave Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of Persons (AO35 IAC); and the National Monitoring Mechanism (NMM). However, there is a need to strengthen the capacity and to address remaining gaps on combating impunity and preventing violations.

This seminar aims to enhance the capacity and to improve measures on investigation and monitoring of violations on workers’ civil liberties and trade union rights. It is part of strengthening application both in law and in practice of the Conventions, while addressing the comments of the supervisory mechanisms under the ILO EU GSP+ Project.

Furthermore, this seminar takes into account the request of tripartite constituents to enhance their capacities in investigating and monitoring, while increasing their knowledge and skills in case build-up and documentation. By equipping sectoral representatives of the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Councils-Monitoring Body, the Regional Tripartite Monitoring Body and the Commission on Human Rights, they can better monitor and examine allegations of violations of civil liberties and trade union rights.

More importantly, this event is a step towards promoting an environment conducive for the fundamental principles on Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining to thrive even after this seminar.

From learnings and experiences of this seminar, we intend to develop a training module or if possible, an e-learning course. I enjoin you to take this opportunity to learn from our experts, to share your experiences and to engage in social dialogue as you all work together to find solutions and to propose actions that will help address gaps and strengthen implementation of ILO Conventions 87 and 98.

Better application and implementation of ILO Conventions on Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining further provides the Philippines preferential access to the EU market through reduced tariffs and special trade incentives under its Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus. A biennial GSP report published in January 2018 cited the Philippines for putting in place the necessary policy and legal frameworks in the application of labour standards. A key issue to be addressed, however, is ensuring investigations of violence against trade unions and prevention of such cases.

Increasing trade and export revenue for the Philippines through the GSP+ supports the country’s goal of inclusive economic growth and creating decent work. This is in line with the Philippine Development Plan and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Each of you has a vital role to play in the process. The ILO is ready to provide technical assistance and to enhance capacity towards strengthening Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining in the country.

Again, thank you for your continued support and active participation. I wish you a fruitful discussion and a successful seminar. I look forward to your collective action and positive results of this initiative.

Thank you!