Opening address at the ILO orientation on freedom of association based on social dialogue for PEZA officials, staff, and locators

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the ILO orientation on freedom of association based on social dialogue for PEZA officials, staff, and locators, 26 April 2021 Manila, Philippines via Zoom

Statement | Manila, Philippines via Zoom | 26 April 2021
  • Manager Guiapal of the Promotions and Public Relations Group from Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA)
  • Assistant Secretary Cucueco from Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)
  • Director Benedictos from Bureau of International Trade Relations (BITR)
  • ILO colleagues – Jajoon and Arun from the ILO Regional Office in Bangkok, and our ILO Manila team;
  • Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon!
A warm welcome and thank you for joining this orientation on freedom of association (FoA) based on social dialogue for Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) officials, staff and ecozone locators.

The ILO-EU Trade for Decent Work Project organized this with the support of the European Union, which we are indeed grateful.

Freedom of association (FoA) and the right to collective bargaining (CB) go beyond principles, and labour and human rights commitment. These are essential to economic and social progress towards sustainable development.

The ILO strongly believes that adherence and compliance with international labour standards is a good business and economic strategy, especially for a fast-growing economy and emergent market like the Philippines.

In particular, we see compliance with international labour standards as an enabling factor to enhance the country’s international trade and export competitiveness. This holds true especially with increasing worldwide attention on demanding ethical global value chains and responsible business conduct and practices.

Case in point would be several special trade arrangements and privileges that the Philippines currently enjoys like the EU Generalised Scheme of Preferences+. ‘

This is largely contingent on continued commitment and adherence to international human rights, environmental and good governance treaties and agreements, including the eight (8) ILO core conventions.

All of the Core Conventions have been ratified by the Philippines, which includes ILO Conventions on 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), among others.

Given this, special economic zones play an important role to ensure that the Philippines benefits from such international trade arrangements and special privileges. Demonstrating strong adherence and commitment to international labour standards through responsible business conduct and ethical global value chain practices is thus critical. Social dialogue is also essential to promote compliance with international labour standards, especially on freedom of association and collective bargaining in economic zones.

Through social dialogue, government, workers and employers are brought together to come up with tripartite, collective action and joint efforts to address compliance gaps, promote tripartite and bipartite workplace cooperation programmes and mechanisms, and resolve issues and concerns on labour and industrial relations in ecozones.

In the light of the current COVID-19 pandemic that has impacted not just public health but also the world of work. These include issues concerning compliance, labour standards, OSH, workers’ rights and labour productivity. Social dialogue, thus, becomes even more relevant ever.

We hope that this Orientation will highlight economic soundness and strategic compliance to labour standards. Strong compliance fosters not only the country’s global competitiveness but also boosts labour productivity in economic zones. This can also help expand and diversify export markets, especially in the context of the EU GSP+ and other international trade arrangements.

For ecozones, we also hope that this Orientation will contribute and support the Philippines in implementing and achieving priorities set under the Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP). This is also vital as we all work together to build a better future of work and recover from the impact of COVID-19.

The ILO greatly appreciates all the initiatives and efforts of PEZA to partner and collaborate with us in promoting compliance and strengthening social dialogue in ecozones.

We would also like to thank our specialists from the ILO Regional Office, DOLE and DTI who will share their expertise with us today.

With that, I wish you all a productive orientation that will further solidify the partnership we have since the onset of the ILO-EU Trade for Decent Work Project. By working together, we can achieve results-based outcomes and reforms that would strengthen freedom of association and social dialogue in ecozones.

Maraming salamat po (Thank you very much)!