A labor coalition is questioning the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for its “faulty” report to the International Labor Organization (ILO) on the country’s compliance on the recommendations of the High Level Tripartite Mission (ILO-HLTM) of the labor arm of the United Nations.
Last Friday, the All Philippine Trade Unions (APTU), a coalition of the biggest labor federations, finally submitted its comment on the DOLE report to the ILO’s Committee on Application Standards (CAS).
“[The] government’s submission to the ILC (International Labor Conference) is replete with rationalization, faulty logic and intellectual dishonesty,” APTU said.
“If not for the tragedy of the 69 lives lost and counting, the report itself would be laughable,” it added.
In its own report to the ILO-HLTM, the APTU said it was able to document 68 trade unionist killings since the last administration. It rose to 69 following the killing of Alex Dolorosa, a paralegal and organizer of the BPO Industry Employees Network (BIEN) last April.
Foremost of APTU’s complaint against the DOLE report was its failure to include inputs from employers and labor stakeholders.
The labor groups also flagged the report for questioning the credibility of the HLTM, when it noted the body “appears to put much reliance” on the views expressed in a report submitted by “groups of unions.”
“This seems to imply that the HLTM’s tripartite composition does not provide sufficient balance and consideration of a tripartite view, on issues that the HLTM’s reports bring into focus,” APTU said.
APTU belied the remark from DOLE, stressing that the HLTM was balanced and diplomatic, when it assessed last January the reports of mass Freedom of Association (FOA) violations in the country.
For its part, APTU downplayed reforms implemented by the government to address FOA violations such as creating national and regional mechanisms to monitor compliance with ILO Conventions No. 87 (FOA) and 98 (Right to Organize).
“Many of these reforms that emanated from the High- Level Mission (HLM) in 2009 have either atrophied or have been sidelined altogether,” it said.
The group also said government policies and mechanisms failed to “end impunity and the climate of fear in union organizing.”
It also criticized the attempts of the Marcos administration to address the matter by creating a presidential inter-agency committee (IAC) through Executive Order No. 23 to look into incidents of trade unionist killings.
“Neither workers nor employers organizations were consulted in the drafting of the EO 23, an act that, by itself violates Convention 144 on Tripartite Consultation,” APTU said.
EO 23, it noted, was also silent on a roadmap to “resolve with finality the outstanding 68 documented labor-related extra-judicial killings.”
Labor leaders also said the current composition of the IAC, except the Department of Trade and Industry and the Executive Secretary, are members of the National Task Force to End Local Communists Armed Conflict.
They said this implies that the IAC will be concerned on national security, thus “potentially conflating labor-related concerns.”
DOLE is expected to report its compliance on the ILO-HLTM recommendations during the 111th ILC from June 5 to 16 in Geneva, Switzerland.
APTU has earlier said it will raise their concerns at the ILC to compel the government to come out with sufficient reforms to address alleged local labor abuses.
The members of the workers’ group to the ILC include Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) Party-list Rep. Democrito Raymond Mendoza, Social Security System (SSS) Commissioner Eva Arcos, Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) deputy secretary-general Nice Coronacion, Kilusang Mayo Uno chairman Elmer Labog (KMU) and Federation of Free Workers (FFW) President Sonny Matula.
SENTRO secretary-general and APTU member Josua Mata said they hope DOLE will be more open to constructive criticisms at the ILC.
“Rather than spend its energy projecting through smoke and mirrors that all’s well in the labor front, DOLE should do its job of ensuring that FOA is truly respected in the country,” Mata said.