Geneva—“More decent jobs mean less poverty”, Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz said this last week in her address to tripartite participants from 187 countries in the 105th Session of the International Labor Conference, where she expressed the Philippines’ unequivocal support to the ILO’s End of Poverty Initiative, ILO Director General Guy Ryder’s comprehensive report to the Conference.
The End of Poverty Initiative is one of the seven centenary initiatives adopted by the ILO in the framework of its 100th anniversary in 2019.
Secretary Baldoz, in her statement, commended Director General Ryder for his report which highlights the ILO’s strategic role in charting the future of work towards attaining the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 8 on Decent Work and Economic Growth.
She highlighted the Philippine government’s initiatives and contributions in achieving decent work under the Aquino III administration, many of which are recognized “firsts” in the country’s history and engagement in the international arena.
Among these are the ILO’s recognition of the Philippines as one of eight countries out of 187 member states that achieved fifteen or more decent work programme results, which Baldoz said were concrete outcomes of the tripartite-supported Labor and Employment Plan 2011-2016 on Decent Work.
“This is first for the Philippines since the ILO introduced the Decent Work Agenda in 1999,” she stated.
Another first that Baldoz noted was the inclusion of the Philippines, during the last three years, in the Global Child Labor Report asone of top ten countries with significant progress in implementing measures towards the elimination of the worst forms of child labor.
She also noted the recognition by the ILO—as first in and unique to the Philippines—of the pioneering developmental and regulatory approaches of the DOLE’s new Labor Law Compliance System which covers all labor laws and regulations, and which curbs abusive practices on contractualization.
She also mentioned as unique achievement by the country the two-tier wage system with fixed minimum and flexible productivity pay that had resulted to minimum wage higher than poverty threshold, as well as increase in workers’ tax-exempt incomes.
“We (also) experienced for the first time stable and sustainable industrial peace based on social justice using mandatory conciliation of labor complaints that are root causes of labor strikes, and effectively reduced strike incidence to single-digit annually with least intervention by government,” she stated.
She also underscored that under the Aquino administration, the country was able to successfully link compliance with core labor standards with trade negotiations and agreements.
She noted the Philippines’ significantly-high ranking in labor market efficiency index shown in the 2016 World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, particularly on cooperative labor-management relations and pay and productivity, reliance on professional managers, and capacity to attract and retain talents.
“Our social protection program has substantially reduced vulnerable employment. We have identified the gaps in its implementation using the ILO ABND process and the ILO Recommended Social Protection Floor and we have instituted corrective actions,” said Baldoz.
On the protection of migrant workers, she stated that the UN Committee on Migrant Workers has recognized the Philippines’s labor migration system as a model of workers’ protection for labor-sending countries, even as she welcomed the launching by the ILO of the Fair Migration Agenda and its chairmanship of the UN Migration Group in 2014 resulting to the inclusion of migration in the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Baldoz proudly said the tripartite-supported reforms taken by the DOLE in the last six years not only improvedlabor governance in the country but more so addressed workers’ vulnerabilities.
“Clearly, the effects of the decent work reforms to the Philippinesare improved employment situation, lesser vulnerable employment, lower youth unemployment, acceleration of poverty reduction, and deceleration in inflation, such that the country’s extreme poverty reflected sustained downtrend, posting a single-digit rate”, she said.
Baldoz acknowledged that the country’s decent work program has benefited from the ILO’s support, particularly through its Technical Cooperation Program on Freedom of Association. “We have gained substantial progress in our compliance on administrative law and practice, but urgent reforms on criminal justice are needed to address issues of impunity. We need to pursue more vigorously legislation to close gaps in law,” she said.
Finally, Baldoz said in her statement that the Philippines had already concluded ILO-assisted multi-sectoral consultations on the ILO’s Future of Work Initiative in relation to the 20130 SDGs and national programs on Climate Change, Green Jobs, and Human Resource Development Plans for Services, Industry, and Agriculture Roadmaps to Growth, and have integrated the results of these consultations into a draft Labor and Employment Plan 2016-2022 using the decent work framework.
“The National Tripartite Industry Peace Council, our institutionalized constitutional body for social dialogue, will adopt this Plan and in time endorse it to the incoming government. Our tripartite partners will ensure the continuity and sustainability of all our decent work reforms and pursue new ones to meet the ILO’s challenges. Clearly, the agenda: More decent jobs, less poverty,” Baldoz said.