Workers' right to self-organize still an issue in PH, groups say

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 29) — The Filipino worker's right to form unions, even with laws to support it, is still a problem in the Philippines, groups say.

In her interview on CNN Philippines' The Exchange, International Labour Organization Project Manager Cerilyn Pastolero pointed out that the Philippines may have strong tripartite mechanisms for dialogue, "but there needs to be stronger engagement in terms of monitoring how these laws are implemented at the ground level."

"There needs to be stronger dialogue at these local levels and ensuring that workers and employers are able to engage in constructive dialogue and that workers and employers can independently engage with each other," she added.

Federation of Free Workers Vice President Julius Cainglet also noted there are measures to promote self-organization, but implementing these in reality is a struggle since many employers are still not yet informed of the benefits of such. There are also policies in the Labor department that pose challenges instead of solutions, he argued.

"Maganda sa papel pero we need a lot of improvements sa implementasyon," he emphasized, noting how workers still get harassed and even red-tagged whenever they try to form unions.

[Translation: It's good on paper but we need a lot of improvements when it comes to implementation.]

In light of next month's elections, Pastolero said the next administration should prioritize addressing the mechanisms first when it comes to labor issues.

"We have a healthy tripartite system, we have established mechanisms, these are not always implemented. You would still find situations where workers are afraid to exercise their right to organize," she said.

"What's important is that labor and employment are being streamed in the government's development plan and these labor and employment plans should also be based on core labor standards," she added.