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Saturday, September 19, 2009

ILO Seeks Improvement in RP’s Compliance with Int’l Labor Standards

The Department of Labor and Employment said the International Labor Organization  will send a mission to the Philippines not to investigate alleged labor rights abuses and killings of unionists but to help improve the country's compliance with ILO Convention No. 87 following the ILO's request it made to the Philippine government during the International Labor Conference (ILC) in 2007.

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque said the government has accepted the request of the ILO's Committee on the Application of Standards (CAS) to send a mission to the Philippines after due consultations with labor and management.

Roque said the CAS requested the sending of a mission to the Philippines in a constructive spirit that focuses on helping the ILO's constituents in the country – government, labor, and management – find ways to address problems and gaps in the application of Convention 87, both in law and practice, in the country. The Convention refers to the freedom of association and protection of the right to organize which the Philippines ratified in 1953. The Philippine Constitution and the Labor Code give effect to the Convention.

This, he said, means that the ILO mission that is scheduled to arrive in the country on Sept. 22 will look on cases involving complaints filed by certain workers groups with the ILO including cases on killings of trade unionists not to find fault but to constructively assist the social partners find measures to bring into full compliance the country's application of Convention 87.

He said that based on ILO's terms of reference (TOR), the mission's main purpose is to obtain a greater understanding of the application of Convention 87 by reviewing matters relating to the application in law and practice of Convention 87, adding that the mission will subsequently identify areas in which the ILO could provide support and technical assistance for the effective application of the Convention.

He noted that the government's acceptance of the ILO mission underscored its commitment as a democratic institution to respect and promote the principles of the freedom of association and the right of workers and employers to organize as embodied in Convention 87.

Roque also said that the conduct of the mission will provide an opportunity to clarify issues particularly the cases reported by the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) to the ILO as labor-related killings in violation of Convention 87.

Records showed that the KMU reported only 39 cases as labor-related killings to ILO and not 92 as reports indicated. Verifications by authorities also showed that of the 39 cases, 24 involved the same persons indicated by Karapatan as victims of political killings.  Only 13 cases are possibly labor-related in which victims were either union organizers or union members.  Some of these cases involved ordinary crimes and not related to Convention 87.     

The DOLE Chief said the ILO mission will look into these cases and afterwards report to the appropriate ILO body for the identification of priority actions including areas for training and capacity-building to improve the application of Convention 87.

Roque also clarified reports which indicated that a number of establishments have been turned into military camps saying the presence of the police in establishments where strikes and lockouts are on-going is limited only to peace-keeping in accordance with the existing guidelines concerning the conduct of PNP personnel, private security guards and company guard forces during strikes, lockouts, and labor disputes.

The guidelines provides that personnel detailed as peacekeeping force in strike or lockout areas shall exercise maximum tolerance and observe neutrality in their dealings with both parties while preventing the commission of criminal acts or any untoward incident from either side.

Roque said a peacekeeping detail shall be established in a strike or lockout when requested by the DOLE or as the PNP may deem necessary for the purpose of maintaining peace and order in the area.

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