Quezon City, Philippines – “The Church has social teachings that reiterate the need for people to value labor or work and everyone, including the government, should respect that,” these are the words that came out of the Forum on Unemployment, Security of Tenure and Right to Self-Organization held Tuesday, 21 June 2011 at the Occupational Health and Safety Center in Diliman, Quezon City.
The forum was organized by the members of the Church-Labor Conference, Occupational Health and Safety Center (OSCH), and Department of Labor and Employment – Bureau of Labor Relations (DOLE-BLR). CLC was formed in 2009 after several labor groups, NGOs and church-based labor centers banded together in an effort to address the prevailing labor issues in the Philippines, including the violations of labor rights and occupational health and safety standards in an infamous Korean-owned shipyard, the dismissal of Dusit Hotel workers due to an “illegal” strike, contractualization in the Philippine Airlines and sacking of majority of its union members and officers, “ENDO” or end of contract phenomenon, among others.
In this forum, the foremost topic was tenurial security and the much-awaited passage of a bill on security of tenure and regular employment. LEARN legal counsel, Tony Salvador, discussed the pertinent provisions of the bill that would limit and regulate the employers’ labor-related abuses in terms of subcontracting, contracting out business functions and union-busting. As a member of the CLC, LEARN plays a major role in making sure that the bill is monitored in the House of Representatives and its content is protected from any encroachment by some reluctant employers’ groups and legislators. LEARN has also been instrumental in drafting the text of the bill with the help of other labor groups that Akbayan and the Coalition Against Contractualization (KONTRA) consulted months before the first reading of the bill in Congress. It is left to time when the efforts of the groups will come to fruition.
Other issues tackled in the event were the prospects of exercising workers’ right to self-organization in selected industries and establishments, the employment situation in the Philippines, the Social Teachings of the Church on Labor, the Philippine Labor and Employment Plan for 2011-2016, and the challenges that workers, trade unionists and labor activists face in the context of neoliberal globalization policies and processes for the next twenty (20) years.
The forum was followed by a workshop wherein participating labor leaders and representatives from other CLC member-organizations came up with answers to the following long-standing questions: 1) what do we observe in the job generation program of the government; 2) what are the rules that need to be changed or espoused in order to protect the workers’ right to regular work; 3) how can workers enjoy their basic rights to security of tenure and self-organization; and 4) what can the labor department of the Philippine government do to show that it really protects the rights of workers.