Solidarity message to public health workers at the Union leadership training on freedom of association, social dialogue and collective negotiations

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the Public health workers' union leadership training on freedom of association, social dialogue and collective negotiations, 24 October 2022, Davao, Philippines

Statement | Davao, Philippines | 24 October 2022
  • Sisters and brothers from the public sector unions, the Public Sector Labor Independent Confederation (PSLink) and the Employees Association of Regional Health Office XI,
  • Distinguished government officials, particularly, the Department of Health (DOH),
  • Ladies and gentlemen, maayong buntag (good morning)!
Let me convey my solidarity and appreciation especially for our public health workers, the frontliners as you highlight the importance of freedom of association, social dialogue and collective negotiations, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic showed us the vital role of public health care systems. In the Philippines and in many countries, the pandemic has taken a heavy toll on health workers. The new WHO/ILO guide urges greater safeguards to protect health workers.

We must ensure that Filipino public health workers have access to decent and safe working conditions. Workers organizations and trade unions in the public sector have a vital role. Early this year, member States of the ILO have adopted a resolution and committed to respect and promote the fundamental right to a safe and healthy working environment.

The Decent Work Country Programme of the Philippines includes occupational safety and health, as well as freedom of association, social dialogue, rights at work including the right to collective bargaining. It is a product of social dialogue.

Moreover, the ratification of the Labour Relations (Public Service) Convention, 1978 (No. 151) and the Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 2006 (No. 187) is a crucial step.

Specifically, ILO C151 supports ILO C87 on freedom of association and C98 on collective bargaining, whose key principles have also been enshrined in the 1987 Philippine Constitution, particularly its provision on the right of government employees to freely organize.

Its ratification Protecting fundamental rights and freedoms of public sector workers are also in line not just with ILO Convention 151, but also the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87) and the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98). It also expands the democratic space by promoting social dialogue in the public health sector.

Creating a recovery that is inclusive, sustainable and resilient must become a top priority for public policy. The Global Call to Action provides a clear and comprehensive path forward for a human-centred recovery from the COVID-19 crisis that is inclusive, sustainable and resilient.

The ILO-EU Trade for Decent Work Project and the International Training Centre of the ILO (ITCILO) helped enhanced the capacity of health sector union representatives on social dialogue and collective bargaining mechanisms.

The project also supported public health workers in their call for the country to ratify the Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 1981 (No. 155), which involves public health workers in monitoring national OSH implementation. Likewise, it supports both private public sector unions to craft a Labour Agenda that includes regularizing contractual government workers, creating OSH committees in public offices, reviewing hospital privatization plans, ensuring quality public healthcare, and providing better pay for public health workers.

Finally, let me express again our solidarity, as well as wish you a productive training and success in your endeavours to promote decent work for health workers and ensure no one is left behind!

Daghang salamat (Thank you very much)!