Date Posted: June 15th, 2015 02:42 AM
Geneva—Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz has informed a select group of European Community labor ministers that the policy environment in the Philippines for micro and small enterprises (MSEs) is towards increasing their capacity to comply with labor and occupational safety standards (OSH).
Speaking at the Informal Ministerial Meeting on Occupational Safety and Health in MSEs, a side event of the 104th International Labor Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, Baldoz, said the promotion of OSH in MSEs in the Philippines is intended to take care of its human resources.
“We focus on improving the capacity of our MSEs to comply with labor standards and occupational safety and health standards for increased productivity and financial and business environment support for their growth,” she said.
The informal ministerial meeting, to which Baldoz was the lone labor minister from Asia who was invited, was convened and organized by Latvia in connection with its presidency of the Council of the European Union.
The meeting was an interactive platform for sharing experiences and good practices in order to raise awareness on safety issues and promote a preventive culture in MSEs. It was attended by labor ministers from Luxembourg, Turkey, France, Georgia, The Netherlands, United States, and Tunisia, as well as representatives of the International Employers Organization and the Chairman of the ILO Workers Group, Luc Cortebeeck, and the ILO’s Sandra Polaski.
“We have been implementing OSH programs for MSEs in the Philippines with the technical support and cooperation of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Our efforts to take care of the human resource side of MSEs have been anchored on productivity improvement,” said Baldoz in his message.
She said all establishments in the country, including the MSEs, are covered by the Labor Law Compliance System (LLCS), a reform measure supported by President Benigno S. Aquino III and the tripartite partners with technical assistance from the ILO.
“We have shifted our enforcement system under the new LLCS from purely regulatory to one that combines regulatory and compliance-enabling approaches. Our aim is to inculcate a culture of voluntary compliance,” she said.
She reported that last year, on the LLCS’s maiden implementation, 76,892 establishments were covered compared to the 23,400 establishments in the last decade (2004-2013). Of this number, 67,906 were subjected to joint assessment. Out of the 67,906 assessed establishments, 58 percent are micro enterprises (with 1-9 workers), 38 percent are small and medium establishments (with 10-199 workers), and 4 percent are large companies (with 200 and more workers).
She further noted that the average compliance rate for safe work environment is 57.2 percent.
“Micro enterprises are the most compliant, with 63.2 percent compliance rate, followed by large establishments at 49.1 percent; and the least compliant are small and medium establishments, at 46.9 percent,” she said.
Across all industries, compliance is high at 99 percent on occupational health and environmental control, premises of establishments, personal protective equipment, materials handling and storage, and machine guarding.
Looking into a representative figure for the supply chain, of the total establishments assessed, 12,672 were contracting/subcontracting establishments, a majority of which, or 66 percent (8,365), are service providers, followed by security agencies at 21 percent; construction at 9 percent; and janitorial services at 4 percent. Among the service providers, micro enterprises comprise the majority at 57 percent, followed by small and medium enterprises at 36 percent, and large enterprises at 7 percent.
“On all the indicators, service providers are more compliant with labor standards, minimum wage, safe work environment, and monetary benefits,” she said.
She informed the EU labor ministers that MSEs make up 99 percent of business enterprises, or 936,791 out of the total 944,897 business establishments, in the Philippines.
“Our medium and large enterprises comprise only 0.4 percent of total business establishments, while MSEs employ 4.2 million out of the total 7.5 million establishment employment, or 57 percent,” she said.
MSEs in the Philippines are largely concentrated in manufacturing; wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles; accommodation and food services; and information and communication.
Baldoz enumerated the challenges faced by MSEs in the Philippines, including limitation in resources to address safety issues; lack of OSH training and education among workers and enterprise owners; the need to survive in a competitive environment; the absence of unions and of effective reporting system for work-related accidents and illnesses, are the common issues encountered in ensuring compliance by MSEs and medium enterprises and these contribute to the vulnerability of their workers to occupational injuries and illnesses.
To address these challenges, she said the DOLE has developed OSH compliance standards for MSEs covering OSH standards to ensure that MSEs can observe safe and healthy workplace.
“Our standards mandate safety and health training and first-aid training for the owner and at least one worker, and the creation of a three-person safety and health committee with the owner being the Chair. A trained safety officer is a requirement for all establishments regardless of size and online e-BOSH course is available to workers and employers. MSEs are required to implement housekeeping, materials storage and handling, electrical and mechanical safety, emergency preparedness, fire safety, personal protective equipment, and regular monitoring of hazards,” she said.
On legislation, she said the Congress of the Philippines is in the thick of working on criminalizing violations of occupational safety and health standards in all industries.
“This is part of the ongoing work to update the 41-year old Philippine Labor Code, which currently does not declare unlawful violations of OSH standards,” she said, citing pending bills that will be fused with a Tripartite Industrial Peace Council-endorsed measure seeking to impose a fine of P100,000.00 or approximately US$2,250.00 for every day of non-correction in addition to proposed imprisonment ranging from 1 year to 6 years, without prejudice to filing of criminal charges under the Penal Code, such as offenses of reckless imprudence resulting to homicide, in case of death,” she explained.
Baldoz thanked the Government of Latvia for spearheading the discussion on OSH in MSEs, saying this was timely and relevant given the increasing importance of micro and small enterprises in every country’s economy as part of the global supply chain.
“She also thanked the ILO, saying, finally:
“The Philippines appreciates that the ILO has surfaced the importance of MSEs in the world economy by including it in the agenda items in this year’s International Labor Conference. We hope that the discussions in this meeting alongside the conclusion of the Committee on SME and Creation of Employment would meaningfully contribute to the general discussion for the 105th ILC on decent work in the global supply chain.”