As the Philippines government continues to ignore ILO recommendations to address serious trade union rights violations in the country and fails to investigate the killing of trade unionists and violence against unions, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) once again postponed a high level ILO tripartite mission to the country.

The Council of Global Unions (CGU) Pilipinas held a protest action at DOLE on September 9, denouncing the delays that effectively deny workers the right to freedom of association and fail to hold the perpetrators of violence against trade unionists accountable. This only increases the sense of impunity of those orchestrating violence against union leaders, organizers and members, and perpetuates the climate of fear. In dozens of cases the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association has been clear about this environment of fear:

A free and independent trade union movement can only develop in a climate free of violence, threats and pressure, and it is for the Government to guarantee that trade union rights can develop normally.

The actions of the Philippines government – essentially its inaction – creates uncertainty among workers throughout the Philippines about whether they really can form and join unions without fear of violence, intimidation and punishment. It is a fundamental principle of all human rights that the realization of rights is premised on certainty. The certainty that we have these rights and can exercise them.

The inaction and delays of the Philippines government are unacceptable and must condemned by the international trade union movement.



Global unions press DOLE to jail killers of workers; stop attacks vs. unions, workers

Council of Global Unions (CGU)-Pilipinas

9 September 2022

The Council of Global Unions (CGU)-Pilipinas marched to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Intramuros today to demand accountability for the killing and other forms of violence that trade union leaders and organizers have been experiencing.

In a letter addressed to Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma, CGU Pilipinas scored the DOLE for “the very slow pace by which the Department is acting on the very sorry and serious state of freedom of association in the country.”

CGU Pilipinas has learned that the DOLE has formally asked the International Labour Organization (ILO) to move the High Level Tripartite Mission (HLTM) to the Philippines to look into the serious violations to ILO Convention 87 to early 2023 instead of this month.

“We find this unacceptable as moving the HLTM yet again delays the HLTM by three and a half years, without regard for Filipino trade union leaders and organizers who continue to get killed, arbitrarily arrested, red-tagged or who continue to disappear, thereby disregarding civil liberties, human rights and trade union rights with impunity,” said CGU-Pilipinas, composed of the Philippine affiliates of the global union federations and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC),

At the budget hearing yesterday, labor groups wanted Congress to add to the budget of the DOLE which was drastically reduced by 49%

“We want more budget for hiring more labor inspectors and strengthening labor inspection with the direct participation of deputized worker-inspectors, investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the killings and unabated violence against workers, and making them accountable,” CGU-Pilipinas said.

The Philippines is still in the notorious list of the Ten Worst Countries for Workers to live in, according to the International Trade Union Conference Rights Index for the past six years.

“Government has failed to resolve the cases of killings of workers and prosecute those responsible—especially state forces—for the killings, violence, harassment and red-tagging of trade unions, leaders and organizers. Government inaction has also created an environment where irresponsible employers have become bolder in busting unions and not recognizing trade unions,” CGU Pilipinas said.

The group also scored how the DOLE seems to have endorsed the blatantly anti-union activities of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC).

“Our members have reported how they have been (forcibly) invited by the NTF-ELCAC to trade union orientation sessions through their employers and in the presence of DOLE officials. The NTF-ELCAC bad mouths labor federations, calls strikes and protest actions as terrorist activities and threatens trade union leaders so they may renounce membership to trade unions they freely joined and formed,” CGU Pilipinas said.

“The NTF-ELCAC should be abolished, and its budget for seminars should be appropriated for trade union education and training that are run by trade unions themselves,” CGU Pilipinas said.

Among the members of the CGU-Pilipinas are the Federation of Free Workers (FFW), Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and SENTRO, who are affiliated to the ITUC; and the Philippine affiliates of the Public Services International (PSI), Education International (EI) and UNI Global, who are the Pubic Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK), Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and UNI – Philippine Liaison Council respectively. Also signing on are Nagkaisa! Labor Coalition, Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and Confederation for the Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE).