Message at the 25th Federation of Free Workers (FFW) National Congress

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the 25th Federation of Free Workers (FFW) National Congress, 26 August 2022, Baguio, Philippines

Statement | Baguio, Philippines | 26 August 2022
  • Partners, brothers and sisters from FFW, from national and regional representatives.
  • Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon!
Warm greetings to you all, in this occasion of holding your 25th National Congress.

After nearly three years of uncertainty and disruption brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, I am pleased to see you all convene in person to discuss your plans and strategies to advance workers’ role in the ever-changing world of work.

Your theme, “Workers’ Solidarity in Pursuit of a New Social Contract in a Changing World of Work” is timely and relevant.

The global landscape of the world of work has changed dramatically in the past 3 years, with the COVID-19 pandemic as the main disruption, adversely impacted global markets and millions of workers lost jobs or have been displaced, including the Philippines.

This year, ILO downgraded its forecast for the labour market recovery, projecting that a working-hour deficit equivalent to 52 million full-time jobs globally, owing to crisis-induced labour market disruptions.

Return to pre-pandemic performance of labour markets remain elusive and disproportionate impact especially on women’s employment is expected to remain in the coming years.

The COVID‑19 crisis exacerbated the numerous labour market challenges generally faced by young people.

Youth unemployment increased by around 4 million in 2020 and around 160 million children are in child labour accounting for almost 1 in 10 of all children worldwide, with agriculture sector accounting the largest share of child labour worldwide.

The temporary closing of schools and training institutions, or transfer to online modalities of learning for prolonged periods in many countries has weakened learning outcomes and is foreseen to have long-term implications for workers today and for children and young people in the future.

Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) became a critical agenda for the ILO and its member States, especially in terms of prevention and management of COVID-19 in workplaces and as an important element in the economic recovery of countries.

ILO and its member States have adopted OSH as part of the Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (FPRW); sending a clear message that workers’ rights to a safe and healthy working environment is a universal right that apply to all workers, regardless of sector, industry or country’s level of development.

This will impact businesses’ compliance to labour standards, collective agreements with trade unions and country’s trade agreements, trade incentive schemes and other investment agreements, requiring enterprises to respect and comply with OSH standards.

I hope that these issues and developments can set the direction and course of action for FFW in strengthening its capacity and enhance workers’ role and participation as the country embarks on a new labour and employment, and economic priorities and agenda set out by the new administration.

I am optimistic that FFW will remain to be a strong force in advancing workers’ rights today and in many years ahead.

I wish you all a productive and successful National Congress. May the results lead us closer towards making decent work a reality for all workers!

Thank you.