Opening address at the World Day for Decent Work 2022

By Mr Bryan Balco, Project Manager of the ILO EU Trade for Decent Work, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the World Day for Decent Work 2022, 7 October 2022, Manila, Philippines

Statement | Manila, Philippines | 07 October 2022
  • Brothers and sisters from trade unions and workers organizations;
  • Your Eminence, Most Reverend Rhee Timbang, Obispo Maximo of the Iglesia Filipinia Independiente (IFI) and all its clergy and faithful present here;
  • House Deputy Speaker Raymond Mendoza of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) Party-list;
  • Atty Sonny Matula of the Federation of Free Workers (FFW) and NAGKAISA Labor Coalition;
  • Ka Bong Labog of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU);
  • Partners from civil society and faith-based organizations;
  • Ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines, I am pleased to convey our solidarity – an emancipating World Day for Decent Work to you all!

We are commemorating this World Day here at the IFI National Cathedral, founded by Supreme Bishop Gregorio Aglipay, a Filipino priest who fought colonialism, and the late Senator Isabelo de los Reyes, the father of the Philippine labour movement.

This year’s theme, “Wage Justice for All,” is very timely and relevant in the fight for decent work, freedom of association, better working conditions, and living wages, among others.

And today’s World Day for Decent Work forum comes right after the ILO CO-Manila, through its European Union (EU)-funded Trade for Decent Work Project and its RBSA PHL 826 Project on Labour Rights and Standards Review Mechanisms, gathered all the major national trade union centres and labour federations in the country to craft a progressive, democratic and inclusive agenda for Filipino workers.

This proposed Labour Agenda has 16 points covering various issues, such as:
  1. freedom of association,
  2. collective bargaining,
  3. security of tenure,
  4. just and living wages,
  5. universal social protection,
  6. quality public services,
  7. rights of informal sector workers,
  8. gender and LGBTQIA+ equality at work,
  9. green jobs, climate justice, energy democracy and just transition,
  10. migrant workers’ rights and welfare,
  11. sustainable national industrial policy,
  12. wealth redistributing taxation,
  13. deepening tripartism and social dialogue,
  14. protection of digital platform workers,
  15. fostering a better future of work through workers’ power and solidarity, and
  16. defending rural, agricultural and fishworkers, and the sovereignty of the Philippines over its territorial waters and maritime and natural resources.
The draft Labour Agenda builds on the Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP) of the Philippines, a product of tripartism and social dialogue. It is also based on the ILO’s Global Call to Action for a Human-Centred Recovery from the COVID-19 that is inclusive, sustainable and resilient.

The draft Labour Agenda also coincides with the inauguration of our new ILO Director-General Gilbert Houngbo, whose priorities mirror workers’ concerns for lasting peace, social justice, solidarity, just share in economic progress, respect for workers’ rights, protection against risks, economic security, equal opportunity, social dialogue, and a fair and inclusive future of work.

The ILO will continue to support trade unions in forging a progressive, democratic and inclusive Labour Agenda. All trade unions must unite to achieve this. With this Labour Agenda, we want to strengthen and reinvigorate Labour Unity and Workers’ Solidarity, based on social and historical justice, economic democracy, and moral and ethical consistency.

Once adopted, we hope that every Filipino worker would own this Labour Agenda. We also hope that Filipino workers will support the collective efforts of trade unions, whether in the halls of Congress or in democratic, legitimate, non-violent and peaceful assemblies, to push for key legislations included in the Labour Agenda by using the ILO’s principle of tripartism and social dialogue mechanisms.

Among these legislations are the Security of Tenure Bill, Magna Carta of Informal Economy Workers, SOGIE Equality Bill, Ratification of the Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No. 190), Enforcement of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Standards, Protection of Labour Organizers, Trade Unionists and Human Rights Defenders, and supporting tripartite discussions on how to improve the income and economic well-being of workers through economic development and enterprise productivity.

Looking at the murals of the Virgen de Balintawak, the Katipuneros, Padre Gregorio Aglipay and Don Belong, here in the IFI National Cathedral, reminds us that the quest for bread, freedom, democracy, justice and the dignity of the poor and working-class peoples is often paid for with great sacrifice by those who chose to live a life of radical love and preferential option for the poor, to use the beautiful language of the social gospel and liberation theology.

And finally, what better way to celebrate this year’s World Day for Decent Work theme on wage justice than to remember what Jesus of Nazareth said, “The workers deserve their just wages” (Luke 10:7).

Maraming salamat, mabuhay, padayon, manggagawang Pilipino at isang mapagpalayang Pandaigdigang Araw para sa Disenteng Trabaho (Thank you very much, long live, carry on, Filipino workers and a liberating World Day for Decent Work)!