Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday commended the DOLE’s social and tripartite partners for their active participation and strong support that had led to the successful conclusion of the regional cluster consultation-workshops on human resource development (HRD) in the sugarcane industry.
The DOLE’s Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns (BWSC) organized and facilitated the conduct of the consultation-workshops.
“I am very thankful to the Sugar Regulatory Administration, the sugar cane planters and millers, mill workers, and farm workers belonging to the country’s District Tripartite Councils, as well as to our partners in the Sugar Tripartite Council, government, and other stakeholders, and commend them for their unwavering support to and active participation in the consultation-workshops that would lead to our crafting of a Human Resource Development Master Plan for the sugar industry,” said Baldoz at the last leg of the consultations in Talisay City, Negros Occidental.
“I believe we succeeded in surfacing the issues and concerns of the various sectors in the sugar industry through this form of social dialogue. Your inputs and comments during the consultations would be very valuable and significant in our work to put in place a final HRD Master Plan for the sugar industry,” she added.
The four, regional island-cluster consultation-workshops—one in Luzon, two in the Visayas, and one in Mindanao—were occasions for sugar industry stakeholders to become familiar with the Sugar Industry Roadmap that the SRA developed and is composed of programs and services for the the sugar industry covering the period 2014-2016. The roadmap primarily focuses on productivity and competitiveness of the industry in an integrated ASEAN regional economy.
“The consultation-workshops is in line with DOLE efforts to mitigate the possible negative impact on the industry with the full implementation of the 2015 ASEAN Economic Community (AEC),” Baldoz explained. “It specifically aims to craft and develop an HRD Master Plan to prepare the industry for whatever opportunities and challenges the AEC integration may bring. The Plan we are set to develop is a complementary document which seeks to address all the concerns of the industry. It will be part of the national HRD Plan of the government of President Benigno S. Aquino III,” she added.
According to the labor and employment chief, the HRD Master Plan will adhere to the decent work framework and the elimination of child labor which had plagued the sugar industry for decades.
One of the compelling outputs of the consultation-workshops is the common understanding among sugar industry stakeholders of the necessity to face up to the challenges of 2015 ASEAN economic integration.
One of these challenges, she said is that any discussion about economic growth involves integration and restructuring which affects workers.
“The question is, what do we do with those who will be affected with the ASEAN economic integration? Our wish is that no one will be left behind when we talk about growth. We, therefore, need to adjust and respond to the structural changes and transformation because it is always the workers who are affected. This is where social protection—the social safety net—comes in,” she stated.
In her oft-repeated message during the consultation-workshops, Baldoz never failed to emphasise that decent work and social protection in any human resource development plan must always include skills training, skills upgrading, and development of skills competencies which are very critical elements of social safety net, particularly for workers who will be displaced in the transition.
In the block farms, for example, which is one of the strategies in the sugar industry roadmap, Baldoz said she would like to see training and seminars on farm management, basic financial management, heavy equipment operation, and repairs and maintenance as contents of the interventions to develop the farms so as to ensure that the growth of the industry will be more inclusive.
“In the 2015 ASEAN economic integration, the transition will be serious so we need to have these interventions to ready the small workers who had become small farm owners. Our assistance or intervention should be very clear and these should be contained in the HRD Master Plan,” she said.
At the end of the day, the HRD Master Plan will be for the workers. It will be for the employers and other stakeholders, so you must own the Plan because you fashioned and crafted it. We in government are just facilitators,” Baldoz finally said.