Labour inspection

Keynote address at the Luzon area wide consultations on the ILO Labour Inspection Convention, 1947 (No.81) and Labour Inspection (Agriculture) Convention, 1969 (No.129)

By Khalid Hassan, Director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the Luzon area wide consultations on the ILO Labour Inspection Convention, 1947 (No.81) and Labour Inspection (Agriculture) Convention, 1969, (No.129), Manila, 29 July 2016

Statement | Manila, Philippines | 28 July 2016
  • Atty Curada, Director Villarama and officials of the Department of Labor and Employment,
  • Regional Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (RTIPC) Members,
  • Representatives of the Labour Inspection Project Advisory Committee,
  • Ladies and gentlemen, magandang umaga sa inyong lahat (good morning to all of you)!
I see social dialogue in action with government, workers, employers and labour inspectors gathered here to strengthen labour law compliance through labour inspection. Your voices and views matter to us.

Today’s consultation provides a venue to review laws and practices in the Philippines with the possible ratification of two key ILO Conventions on Labour Inspection.

These are Convention 81 on Labour Inspection, 1947 and Convention 129 on Labour Inspection (Agriculture), 1969. Both Conventions set the minimum internationally acceptable standards for an effective labour inspection system. They happen also to be the only two Governance Conventions not ratified by the Philippines.

It is important to emphasize that these two Conventions focus on the elements that constitute an effective labour inspectorate system. The Conventions do not set out new labour rights but rather consider the requirements of a properly functioning labour inspection system.

Thus, these key Conventions focus on the principle of a central authority, the functions and coverage of labour inspection, staffing requirements, inspector powers, cooperation with the social partners, and the facilities required for inspectors to properly perform their work.

For the Philippines, ratification of ILO Conventions 81 and 129, would commit not just this government, but succeeding governments to ensure that the country’s labour inspection system is in line with minimum, internationally set standards. This is crucial since reforming a system and sustaining reforms, takes years and is a process of continuous improvement.

The support of the the government, workers and employers to ratify these Conventions sends a strong message to the international community that the Philippines is committed to apply its labour and social laws in all workplaces, and, in the process, ensure that decent work is at the heart of economic development.

The international community also recognizes the importance of labour inspection, thus, the ILO has made the promotion of the ratification of the two key labour inspection conventions a priority.

The Sustainable Development Goals provide additional emphasis on the importance of labour protection. One of the SDG targets for measuring success is precisely to “protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment.

The Philippines has also taken positive reforms to strengthen the labour inspectorate under the new Labour Laws Compliance System. These reforms include:
  • the hiring of hundreds of additional labour inspectors,
  • the introduction of a computerized management information system and, most significantly,
  • the introduction of a developmental and participatory approach to labour inspection.
A key feature of the LLCS, and what makes it unique, is that it draws on the equal, active and informed involvement of both employer and workers’ representatives in the inspection process, now referred to as joint assessments. This is transformative, because while labour inspection is a public function, the goals of labour law compliance can only truly be achieved when employers and workers are informed and engaged.

Series of consultations were done with government, workers, employers, labour inspectors and key partners to assess the implementation of the LLCS.

With your strong support, the LLCS assessment checklist and corresponding rules have been revised and enhanced.

The DOLE has also partnered with other government agencies to coordinate enforcement of labour and social legislation, and provide technical advisory services. These partnerships resulted to agreements with the Social Security System for information sharing on enterprise compliance with social security laws and, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) on technical safety inspections for more coordinated and transparent labour inspections in economic zones.

However, challenges remain. While recent LLCS data revealed an increase by 60 per cent of enterprises covered annually, the correction rate has modestly risen from 21 to 27 per cent. These figures show an encouraging move in the right direction, but also reveal the need for collective action to address the gap (Source: Data from the Labour Laws Compliance Management Information System, DOLE Bureau of Working Conditions, 31 December 2015).

Remaining challenges also include the need for:
  • a more sector-driven compliance approach including improved checklists and inspection manuals,
  • better case management and complaints reporting as an added feature of the LLCS-MIS,
  • a feedback mechanism to ensure that inspections are carried out with professionalism and integrity, a review of multiple tasks performed by LLCOs to focus more on inspection tasks,
  • a mechanism to address concerns of employers on multiplicity of regulatory visits while ensuring consistency and fairness in the application of the law, as well as concerns of workers for a more robust enforcement to hold violators to account, and
  • a meaningful engagement in the LLCS at all levels, by enhancing the internal capacity of workers and employers’ organizations'.
Dialogue on compliance data generated by the LLCS-MIS should also be part of regular discussions with the government, workers and employers organizations. There is also a need to ensure that gains achieved are shared, replicated and where possible institutionalized through legislation.

Bearing all these in mind, today’s consultation aims to raise awareness on Conventions 81 and 129 and the advantages of ratifying these key Conventions.

Your inputs are crucial to strengthen the Philippines labour inspection system in line with international standards, while your recommendations will form part of the ratification roadmap for the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council. Rest assured that the ILO stands ready to support you, as you work towards implementing this roadmap.

In closing, let me thank the DOLE’s Institute of Labor Studies, the Bureau of Working Conditions for their initiative and continued partnership, as well as bureaus with whom continue to work closely towards the ratification of the key Conventions.

We equally recognize and acknowledge the support of workers’ and employers’ organizations, as well as their active involvement in the Project Advisory Committee to strengthen labour inspection in the Philippines.

I wish you all a productive discussion and successful consultation.

Mabuhay at maraming salamat (Long live and thank you very much)!