380 labor rights cases in report to ILO-HLTM

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A TOTAL of 380 alleged local labor rights violations cases were documented in the report submitted by labor groups to the International Labour Organization-High Level Tripartite Mission (ILO-HLTM).

During the first day of their inquiry, the members of the ILO-HLTM met with the 52-man contingent from labor groups,

Among the highlights of the meeting was the submission of the 155-page Joint Report of Trade Unions to the ILO High Level Tripartite Mission detailing the supposed “alarming increase in Freedom of Association (FOA) violations” in the country since 2019.

The report compiled reports of FOA violations, as documented by the Philippines affiliates of the Council of Global Unions including 16 killings of trade unionists.

Local labor groups have earlier said the number of fatalities could be as high as 56, but government officials have disputed this. 

The report also contains details on two cases of forced disappearances; 68 cases of arrests and detention; 90 cases of forced disaffiliation, state interference with the right to self-organization, through threats, harassment and intimidation; and 58 cases of red-tagging/terrorist tagging.

Also included in the report are 127 cases of intimidation/threats/harassment of union leaders and members; and 19 cases of “other non-union activities.”

The report blamed the alleged “government inaction,” for the rampant FOA violations, which it said only worsened at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The report called for the immediate stop to the killings and investigation of the FOA violations, particularly killings, harassment, red tagging and enforced disappearances and the speedy resolution of various cases.

It also called for the review of the anti-insurgency campaign of the government to ensure that such campaign will not undermine FOA; addressing the precariousness of work to strengthen FOA in both private and public sectors; observation and recommendation from ILO supervisory bodies; establishment and strengthening of the mechanisms to investigate past violations of FOA.

Labor and Employment Secretary Bievenido E. Laguesma declined to comment on the report submitted by labor groups pending the inquiry of the ILO-HLTM, which runs from Jan. 23 to 27.

“I don’t want to preempt the process being undertaken by the ILO-HLTM. Maybe you have to wait for the opportune time for them to complete their mission before we make our comments,” Laguesma said in a SMS.

The HLTM is a fact-finding body deployed by ILO’s Committee on the Application of Standards to look into the reported string of killings of trade unionists and supposed mass violations of FOA in the country. Its members include Thomas Janson from Sweden representing the government, Felix Anthony from Fiji representing workers; and Scott Barklam from Australia representing employers.