Industrial Relations and Labour Policy Seminar in the Philippines

JILAF and the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) jointly held an industrial relations and labour policy seminar in Manila on May 27–28. The seminar was titled “The Roles of the Government, Labour, and Management in the Global Economy and the Creation and Stability of Domestic Employment through the Building of Constructive Industrial Relations.” The large-scale seminar, which was being held for the first time in the current fiscal year ahead of other countries, was attended by about 100 persons, including TUCP President Ernesto F. Herrera, Director Benjo Santos M. Benavidez of the Bureau of Labour Relations of the Philippine government’s Department of Labour and Employment, and others involved in labour administration. There were also 17 enterprise-based union officials from Japanese companies.
In the seminar, TUCP officials and outside speakers delivered lectures on such topics as “Response to unstable work resulting from globalization,” “Socioeconomic development and the social role of the labour movement,” “The labour inspection and labour law compliance system,” “Expansion of the informal economy and the protection of informal-sector workers based on ILO recommendations,” and “Toward union policy proposals to the government and employers’ organizations.” It was a good opportunity for the participants to think about the causes of industrial disputes and methods of solution.
The main causes of industrial disputes in the Philippines are said to be (1) unjust labour practices in special economic zones and elsewhere (unjust dismissal, denial of collective bargaining rights, etc.); (2) the government’s negative attitude toward compliance with labour-related legislation; (3) the issue of widening the scope of application of the fixed-term contract employment law; (4) abuse of the internship and in-house training systems; and (5) various issues in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, including call centers, data centers, and back office work (opposition of employers to the formation of unions, long and irregular working hours, high turnover rates, poor working environment, harmful health affects, etc.).
JILAF Deputy General Secretary Ryo Saito then made the following points: (1) The Philippines, which is seen as one of the leading NEXT 11 group of emerging market economies, is the only developing country that has realized a high rate of economic growth centered mainly on service industries; (2) many foreign companies have moved from China since 2012, labour intensity is steadily expanding, and the ASEAN Economic Community is about to be launched, so the Philippines is preparing to fulfill a role in the concentration of secondary industries, an area where it has been playing second fiddle to Thailand and Indonesia; (3) the Philippines has a population of over 100 million people and a young labour force (average age: 23 years); while a high level of ICT skills and English proficiency will be essential for economic and social development, how to create domestic employment infrastructure will be an issue too; and (4) for this purpose, it is urgent for the TUCP to maintain and expand sympathy for its movement among the general public and union members and at the same time to contribute to political stability and make industrial policy proposals to the government, employers’ organizations, and others toward the creation and stability of domestic employment (creation of sustained employment centered on the manufacturing industry based on the building of constructive industrial relations, etc.).
After that, there were group discussions and presentations on the theme of “The building of constructive industrial relations and industrial policy proposals to the government.” The participants made proposals concerning such matters as (1) the worker-centered approach of Japanese companies, which show more concern for working conditions and the environment than Western and South Korean companies; (2) the neglect of unions by domestic companies and foreign companies in special economic zones; (3) the modest holding of workplace labour-management consultations toward the building of good industrial relations; (4) ensuring of the right of collective bargaining and the eradication of unjust dismissals and illegal labour practices; (5) expansion and strengthening of labour inspection and industrial dispute settlement bodies; (6) the importance of job security and personnel training; (7) control of contract and dispatch work in the service industries and switch to regular employment; (8) labour law compliance by foreign companies; (9) nurturing of the domestic manufacturing industry toward sustained economic growth; (10) lobbying of the government for the protection of informal-sector workers; (11) enhancement of influence by nurturing TUCP parliamentarians and local assembly members, organizational expansion, and unionization; and (12) TUCP media strategy and collaborative activities to gain the sympathy of the general public. After mutual discussions, TUCP President Herrera, JILAF Deputy General Secretary Saito, and others wrapped up the two-day seminar.

Schedule

DateContents
05/27WedIndustrial relations seminar day 1:
“Response to unstable work resulting from globalization,” “The labour inspection and labour law compliance system,” “Socioeconomic development and the social role of the labour movement,” etc.
05/28ThuIndustrial relations seminar day 2:
“Expansion of the informal economy and the protection of informal-sector workers based on ILO recommendations,” “Toward union policy proposals to the government and employers’ organizations,” mutual discussions, etc.

Photos of Participants

Opening address by TUCP President Herrera

Lecture by Director Santos of the Bureau of Labour Relations, Department of Labour and Employment

Group discussions by participants (1)

Group discussions by participants (2)

Presentation by a participant

Participants vow to unionize informal-sector workers.