Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday said social protection and workplace safety are at the core of strategies against risks that may be posed by economic integration.
In her keynote address at the opening session of the 37th meeting of the Human Resource Development Working Group (HRDWG) of the Asia Pacific Economic Community (APEC) in Boracay Is., Baldoz said social protection is integral to building inclusive economies, by preventing or reducing poverty, improving social inclusion and stability, and enhancing human capital through investments in education, income support, health and social services.
“Social protection is essential to competitiveness, as it facilitates adaptation and adjustment to changes in the labor market in times of economic restructuring,” she said, taking note that many APEC economies have adopted universal social protection programs for social pension, health insurance, and social security.
“Others have met success in reducing poverty and improving health and education outcomes through conditional cash transfers,” she added.
Addressing the social dimensions of globalization, including equality and needs of vulnerable groups, is one of the agenda for this year’s HRD Working Group Meeting which revolve around the four sets of principles embodied in the Joint Statement of last year’s 6th Human Resources Ministerial Meeting of the APEC.
The other items in the agenda are supporting inclusive and sustainable growth to enhancing human resource quality to meet supply chain demands; facilitating mobility of labor and skills development; and enhancing the participation of women in the economy.
In highlighting social protection and workplace safety, Baldoz recalled before APEC delegates to the meeting that the International Labor Organization, at the 100th International Labor Conference in 2011, adopted the approach of social protection floor for providing universal access to basic social security guarantees that include health care, basic income security for children, basic income security for persons in active age who are unable to earn sufficient income due to contingencies, and basic income security for older persons.
“We call for APEC partnerships in sharing knowledge and best practices based on the experiences of economies that have already adopted the universal social protection floor framework,” she said.
The Philippines’ Labor and Employment Secretary observed that increasing movement of persons within the region will be inevitable in a free trade area that APEC sought to establish within the Asia-Pacific region by 2020, and that this phenomenon might find migrant workers in vulnerable situations, hence, they should be protected.
“Where our economies are actively pursuing increased trade and investments, it is a given that we shall all require talents or skills relevant to industries. Where these cannot be found, or are in short supply in our economies, it is imperative to source from migrant workers in the region. Migrant workers, despite their economic contributions, might find themselves in vulnerable situations,” she said.
“Thus, the APEC, as a regional cooperation platform, can be instrumental in strengthening migrant worker protection,” she added, outlining these can be done in two ways. : first, bilateral or regional agreements; or second, sharing of knowledge and best practices for national legislations to cover migrant workers.
In her speech, Baldoz thanked Dr. Sergey Ivanets of the Russian Federation, the Lead Shepherd of the HRD-Working Group, and acknowledged Undersecretary Ferdinand Cui Jr., APEC Vice Chair, Senior Officials’ Meeting; Romy Tincopa, APEC HRD-Working Group Program Director; Dr. Wang yan, Education Network Coordinator; Dr. Liao Kuei-Yen, Capacity Building Network Coordinator; Malcolm Greening, Labor and Social Protection Network Coordinator; and Lawrence Jeff Johnson, Director of ILO Country Office, who were at the meeting.