Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Bienvenido E. Laguesma received today a High-Level Tripartite Mission (HLTM) authorized by the International Labor Organization (ILO) to make further inquiries on the state of compliance by the Philippine Government with ILO Convention No. 87 (Freedom of association and protection of the right to organize). Ratified by the Philippines in 1953, Convention No. 87 guarantees workers and employers the right to establish and join organizations of their own choosing without previous authorization from any government authority. The guarantee is reiterated in the Philippine Constitution and implemented through the Labor Code.
The HLTM is an independent three-person body composed of one representative each from governments, workers, and employers. It was created at the annual International Labor Conference (ILC) in 2019 in view of long-standing issues raised against the Philippine Government arising from its implementation of ILO Convention 87. These include allegations of extra-judicial killings, violence, intimidation, red-tagging, and harassment committed by State authorities against workers while exercising their trade union rights, and possible legislative reforms to strengthen the rights of workers to organize.
The HLTM, which will hold meetings with the DOLE, other government agencies, and workers’ and employers’ organizations from 23 to 26 January, is tasked to gain more information and to recommend possible assistance to the Philippine Government in taking immediate and effective action on four specific areas:
· Measures to prevent violence in relation to the exercise of workers and employers organizations’ legitimate activities;
· Investigation of allegations of violence against members of workers’ organizations with a view to establishing the facts, determining culpability, and punishing the perpetrators;
· Operationalization of monitoring bodies; and
· Measures to ensure that all workers without distinction are able to form organizations of their own choosing, in accordance with Convention No. 87.
Secretary Laguesma assured the HLTM of DOLE’s full cooperation and assistance in ensuring that the mission meets its objectives. He said that since July last year, DOLE has been holding dialogues with various labor groups on the issues sought to be addressed by the mission. One of its priorities for 2023 is to craft a tripartite roadmap and action plan in consultation with government agencies concerned as well as workers’ and employers’ organizations to address these issues.