Opening Remarks at ILO-EU Trade for Decent Work Project Planning Session on Bipartite Workplace Social Dialogue Mechanisms in Selected Ecozones and Industries

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the Planning Session on Bipartite Workplace Social Dialogue Mechanisms in Selected Ecozones and Industries, , 2 June 2021, Manila, Philippines via Zoom.

Statement | Manila, Philippines via Zoom | 02 June 2021
  • Brothers and sisters from workers organizations and trade unions;
  • Representatives from employers organizations and business sectors;
  • Atty. Ronda Doctor-Malimban from Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE);
  • Ms Cheerly Rosal from Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA);
  • Ms Lucivel Torres from Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Region IX;
  • Regional Manager Ramon Rivera, Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) Region IV;
  • ILO colleagues –Arun from the ILO Regional Office in Bangkok, and our ILO Manila team;
  • Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon!
I would like to welcome you all to this Bipartite Planning Workshop and Activities, organized by the ILO-EU Trade for Decent Work Project funded and supported by our main development partner, the European Union.

Social dialogue is more important than ever given uncertainties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is one of the pillars of the decent work agenda involving government, workers and employers organizations.

Social dialogue is at the core of our work in ILO CO-Manila, as particularly reflected in the Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP) 2020-2024, which is a fruit and product of our tripartite constituents' collaborative efforts. Freedom of association is a precondition to effective social dialogue that promotes democratic involvement of key stakeholders.

Social dialogue includes:
  • Negotiation, consultation and information exchange between and among governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations;
  • Collective bargaining between employers/employers’ organizations and workers’ organizations;
  • Dispute prevention and resolution; and
  • Oher approaches such as workplace cooperation, international framework agreements in the context of regional economic communities.
Bipartite workplace cooperation mechanisms significantly contribute to business sustainability and labour standards compliance.

In the Philippines, workers and employers engagement towards building a culture of compliance is not new with several good practices. It is however vital to upscale these good practices.

Collaboration between employers and workers organizations is an important endeavour in adopting:

a) gender-sensitive and inclusive compliance plans and protocols that align with national and international labour standards, and
b) laws and policies including OSH and COVID-19-related protocols and concerns, especially those that align with EU GSP+ access.

Ensuring close coordination between employers and workers promotes international labour standards compliance. It should not be seen as another obstacle but rather as an enabling factor to enhance the country’s international trade and export competitiveness, especially with increasing worldwide attention on demanding ethical global value chains and responsible business conduct and practices. Several special trade arrangements and privileges such as of EU GSP+ have been used by the Philippines. Upholding a healthy bipartite mechanism would constitute a continuous benefiting from international trade arrangements and special privileges. This is by demonstrating continued adherence and commitment to international labour standards through responsible business conduct and ethical global value chain practices.

We welcome workers and employers from our regional and sectoral priorities and focus:
  • Region III (Central Luzon): Garments locators in Ecozones
  • Region IV-A (CALABARZON): Garments locators in Ecozones
  • Quezon Province, Region IV-A: Coconuts
  • Region IX (Zamboanga): Sardines
Through this workshop, workers and employers from these priorities and focus, are brought together to come up with collective action and joint efforts to strengthen enterprise/ecozone-level bipartite workplace cooperation programmes and mechanisms.

How can this help boost not only the country’s global competitiveness but also increase labour productivity in economic zones? What are ways to expand and diversify export markets in the context of the EU GSP+ and other international trade arrangements?

We look forward to your valuable inputs to this planning exercise that will increase the impact and success of our activities on bipartite social dialogue.

With that, I wish you all a productive planning session that will further solidify the partnership we have built since the start of this project late last year. Working together, we can achieve these results-based outcomes and reforms that would strengthen bipartite-level social dialogue mechanisms in line with principles of freedom of association and collective bargaining.

Maraming Salamat po [Thank you very much]!