The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) and the Philippine Government Employees Association (PGEA) lauds President Duterte for formally endorsing to the Senate the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 151 (ILC 151) which recognizes the right of those employed in the public sector to form unions or associations and to collectively bargain with the government for better salaries, benefits and working conditions among others. TUCP and PGEA calls on the Senate to immediately ratify recognition of ILC 151 by the government to ensure its coming into full force and effect. ILC 151 is an international treaty adopted in 1978 by the International Labour Organization. Ratification of ILC 151 by the Philippine Senate obligates our government to respect the rights of public sector workers to organize unions.
The President has already endorsed and submitted the instruments of ratification to the Senate for concurrence last May 26, 2017. Under Philippine law, the Senate must ratify international treaties and other international instruments. Once ratified, the Philippines will be the first country in Asia-Pacific to adopt the said convention. No administration in the past was willing to accommodate ILC 151 because of the need to have a cowed, intimidated and docile public sector.
“We hope the Senate will swiftly act on the ratification of ILO Convention 151. We have been lobbying for its adoption since 2010. The Philippines must ratify it as part of its commitment to promote social justice and to protect and promote the rights of workers in the public sector” said TUCP Vice President Esperanza Ocampo, the President of the Philippine Government Employees Association (PGEA), the largest public sector federation under the umbrella of the TUCP.
TUCP Partylist Representive Raymond Mendoza, who is also the President of TUCP, has filed House Resolution No. 622 urging the Senate to immediately ratify the labor treaty to strengthen the security of tenure of government workers.
TUCP urged the government to learn the lessons of the failed privatization of NAPOCOR and MWSS which resulted in massive lay-offs of their regular workers only to be rehired later as contractuals with lower pay and less benefits. In addition, consumers became victims of private sector greed expressed in utility rates spiralling upwards.
The TUCP and PGEA are now participating in the Senate hearings and deliberations for the ratification of Convention 151 after Congress resumed its session on July 24, 2017.
“There is a need for a strong civil service to provide universal access to healthcare, universal access to water and electricity, universal high school education and tertiary college education. Securing the regularization of government workers is key to provide these services to all Filipinos”, said Ocampo.
“We still have so much work to do for our workers in the government. Aside from lobbying the Senate to immediately ratify Convention 151, we will also try to convince President Duterte to immediately issue an Executive Order (EO) to address and solve the problem of rampant contractualization in the government in the interim period while we are crafting a bill to be filed at the House of Representatives through our fraternal organization, the TUCP Partylist that will include provisions to end the phenomenon of “job order” contractualization”, explained Ocampo.
The TUCP is dedicated to promote the welfare of all Filipino workers including the more than 1.3 million employees who are working in the public service many are under “job order (JO)”, “contract of service (COS)” and “Memorandum of Agreement” (MOA) work arrangements. “Job order”, “contract of service” and “Memorandum of Agreement” workers must stop now. The government must be the model for promoting decent work and job security and must lead the initiatives to end labor contractualization in the country as part of the “Change Agenda” of the Duterte administration”, Ocampo added.
The TUCP also expressed grave concern about certain contradictions in the priorities of the current administration. There is the proposed rightsizing bill which is a top 12 Duterte legislative agenda which aims to rationalize the bureaucracy. Also PGEA pointed out the plight of a huge number of” job order” and “contract of service” and “Memorandum of Agreement” employees.