The Philippines has once again been included in the list of top 10 worst countries for workers by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) due to persistent reports of abuses against trade unionists.
On Friday, ITUC released its new Global Rights Index, which ranked 149 countries on a 1 to 5 scale, with 1 being the best and 5 being the worst, in terms of their respect for workers’ rights.
The Philippines, together with Bangladesh, Belarus, Ecuador, Egypt, Eswatini, Guatemala, Myanmar, Tunisia, and Turkey were among the countries with the lowest rating.
ITUC noted there was still no guarantee of labor rights in the country due to local incidents of violence and arrest of trade unionists as well as union busting.
“Workers and their representatives in the Philippines remained particularly vulnerable to red-tagging, violent attacks, abductions and arbitrary arrests. Workers across many sectors still faced significant obstacles when attempting to form trade unions,” the 64-page report said.
Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO), one of the local labor groups affiliated with the ITUC, said this was the seventh consecutive year the country was included in the list.
“This should shake the government into action as it could seriously undermine the government’s efforts to invite more investors into the country,” SENTRO secretary Josua Mata told BusinessMirror in an SMS.
The country is negotiating for the reauthorization of its Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) with the United States and the European Union.
Both parties will consider the country’s compliance with international labor conventions in their decision for the reauthorization.
Laguesma: Let observers be judge
Sought for comment on the new ITUC report, Labor Secretary Bienvenido E. Laguesma told the BusinessMirror in a Viber message he will just let observers be the judge of whether the country deserves to be included in the list despite the current administration’s ongoing efforts to address the reported Freedom of Association (FOA) violations.
Labor violation incidents from previous administrations have drawn the attention and concern of the Committee on Application of Standards (CAS) of the International Labor Organization (ILO) during the 111th International Labor Conference (ILC) last month.
In response to the CAS feedback, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) earlier announced it is now crafting a tripartite road map to address the said FOA violations, which it hopes to submit to the CAS by September.
The All Philippine Trade Unions (APTU), which also includes SENTRO, criticized the government efforts to address FOA violations.
“APTU never lacked in offering the government its social partnership in improving the country’s dismal track record on labor rights. DOLE responded with various meetings, consultations, and forums just for show. In reality, meaningful constructive inputs from workers and employers fell on deaf ears,” APTU said in a statement.