‘PHL labor record could weigh on GSP perks’


WITH the government’s “unilateral” review of trade unionists’ killings, the Philippines now faces the risk of being flagged among the worst countries for labor in the next Internal Labor Conference (ILC) next month.

The All Philippine Trade Unions (APTU) warned that the distinction could cost the country its attempts to reauthorize its Generalized System of Preferences (GSP+) arrangements with the United States and Europe.

In a statement, the network of the country’s biggest trade federations called out the apparent lack of progress and the composition of the interagency committee to look into Freedom of Association (FOA) violations.

“Barely two weeks before the deadline set by the ILO-HLTM [International Labor Organization-High Level Tripartite Mission] to report on the progress on the recommendations, government would have nothing concrete to show at the ILO’s ILC in June, except the killing of another trade unionist, Alex Dolorosa of the BPO Industry Employees Network,” APTU said.

FOA report

Created by Executive Order (EO) No. 23 last month, the committee led by Executive Secretary Lucas P. Bersamin was part of the government’s compliance with the recommendation of the ILO-HLTM to address the reported labor abuses in the country.

Labor leaders criticized the lack of representation from employers and workers’ groups in the said committee.

“Not involving workers destroys the spirit of tripartism and doesn’t augur well for transparency, let alone accountability,” APTU said.

Nagkaisa labor coalition and APTU member Sonny Matula said Labor Secretary Bienvenido E. Laguesma has committed last week to first discuss the government report on FOA violations with the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (NTIPC) before they present it to the 111th ILC from June 5 to 16.

However, as of last Thursday, Matula said they have yet to receive a copy of the report.

BusinessMirror tried to get the reaction of DOLE and Malacañang on the matter, but as of press time they have yet to respond on the request.

Notorious list

The lack of tripartism in the presidential committee created by EO 23 may be deemed as non-compliance by the government with the recommendation of ILO-HLTM by the Committee on Application of Standards (CAS) at the ILC, according to APTU.

“The PH government is in danger of being called out by the ILC yet again for being in the notorious list of the worst cases of violation of freedom of association and other trade union rights,” it said.

“All these would have dire effects on our economy as we could lose our GSP Plus benefits from the EU [European Union] as well as prevent us from being granted renewed GSP benefits from the USA. Being labelled once again as one of the Top 10 Worse Countries for workers could also cancel out all the efforts of the current administration to woo investors into the country,” it added.

The GSP exempts several exported Philippines products from tariffs in both markets.