Pro-labor Stand Can Make the Philippines Engaging with Investors
Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) vice president Luis Corral stated that the Philippines has a chance to pitch being pro-labor under the current administration to entice foreign investors.
Corral made the statement last Wednesday, February 8, to the House Committee on Labor and Employment following the panel’s hearing regarding the measures to protect and promote labor organizing to workers’ unions and associations.
Corral stated, “In a situation of corporate impunity and given the last six years under the previous administration, it would be appropriate for a new administration that is into rebranding and pitching to the international community for foreign direct investments to signal that we are in conformity with the highest standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO).”
Earlier in January, labor unions and workers’ groups reported to a three-party mission of the ILO when the organization visited the Philippines to meet with government representatives. Several issues, such as lower membership requirements and harassment of labor unions, were reported.
Corral noted that a proposal of lowering union thresholds from 20% of workers to 10% is still too high, especially for plantations that may have 15,000 workers.
Additionally, TUCP party-list representative Raymond Mendoza stated that among the provisions in the Labor Code is a membership requirement of at least 20%. ILO pointed out that this provision is a “prior restraint” on freedom of association.
Union representative of the Philippine Government Employees’ Association, Elizabeth Doco, also discussed that the group had some doubts about the regulation of lowering the threshold. Moreover, she noted that some workplaces are larger and have more workers than others.
Doco noted, “If we lower to 10%, imagine, there are some agencies that only have 300 workers. So that is just 30 people. For those with 100, that’s just 10 people. It does not reflect the image of the whole workforce, but then if your agency is 1,000 employees, it might be better to sustain the 20%.”
During the deliberation on lowering union membership thresholds, Corral prompted the attendees “in the spirit of cooperation and collaboration” that the government is expected to submit a report to ILO in June following the organization’s recommendations on policies and instructions.