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Saturday, September 26, 2009

ILO looks into RP's labor reform agenda

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) today said the three-member
mission from the International Labor Organization (ILO) will meet with
members of the Lower and Upper Houses of Congress to look into labor laws
and policies particularly relating to the country's application of
international standards on the right of Filipino workers to organize.

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque confirmed that the ILO
mission is scheduled to meet with members of the labor and human resources
development committees of both Houses of Congress during its visit in the
country to identify gaps and provide assistance in addressing these gaps in
the existing Labor Code, as amended, in relation to the country's
application of ILO Convention No. 87.

The Convention provides for the right of the workers and employers without
any distinction, to establish and join organizations of their own choosing,
with a view to further and defend their interest, without prior

Roque said the ILO mission composed of Director of International Standards
Department Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry and her deputy and a labor standards
specialists will also consult with labor and employers.

The Labor and Employment Secretary revealed that for a number of years, the
ILO has proposed for the introduction of amendments to eight Articles in the
country's Labor Code to strengthen the right of Filipino workers to
organize. The most important and highly contentious among the eight
provisions is Article 263(g) which allows the Secretary of Labor to assume
jurisdiction over national interest cases and in effect impose a strike ban.

So far, Roque said the country has already passed into law Republic Act.
9481, or "An Act Strengthening the Workers' Right to Self-Organization,
Amending for the Purpose Presidential Decree No. 442, otherwise known as the
Labor Code of the Philippines, which expands the capacity of federations and
national unions to organize local chapters and acquire representative status
for purposes of collective bargaining.

He also said the DOLE has included legislative reforms in the country's
decent work common agenda adding that tripartite consultations had been
going on for sometime to forge consensus on the proposed amendments. The
common agenda represents areas of consensus to be pursued by the tripartite
partners aimed at achieving decent work in the country. The Philippines is
one of the seven countries (along with Bahrain, Bangladesh, Denmark, Ghana,
Morroco, and Panama) that have piloted the decent work program based on the
ILO framework.

Meantime, the DOLE Chief said there are pending bills in the House and
Senate that seek to introduce amendments to the eight articles in the Labor
Code particularly Article 263 (g). Except for House Bill 5095 which seeks
to repeal Article 263 (g), the other seven bills seek to replace the phrase
'indispensable to the national interest" criterion with the concept of
"essential services," as suggested by the ILO and, thus, limiting national
interest cases to hospital, electrical services, water supply services,
medical institutions, communication and transportation, and transportation
Roque said the executive branch will respect the principle of separation of
powers and subsequently leave to Congress the matter of calendaring the
bills for deliberation and appropriate hearings.

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