28 July 2022 – NTUC Phl members say unprecedented difficulties spawned by COVID-19 and fallout from the Ukraine crisis and responses by government and employers have not been enough to start recovery from the large reversals in gains from decades of struggle for decent work and against inequality. These challenges from multiple crises, including from climate change, require radical proactive global, national, federation, local union interventions, and programs. They batted for their concerns and advocacies in online meetings with various government agencies.
Trade unions have many issues of differing priorities; “issues that do not get resolved by themselves.” They have to be addressed, worked on seriously. They require study, analysis, discussions, consultations, social dialogue, even forceful collective advocacy at times.
The two batches of webinars on Employment Security Labor Relations with the theme“Inclusive and Sustainable Work and Work Relations Under the Pandemic and the New Government” were conducted with the support of Japan International Labour Foundation (JILAF) in four hours in four afternoons Zoomed from Quezon City on 28 June – 1 July and 5-8 July 2022.
Connecting from home, offices, union offices, even workplaces, NTUC Phl unionists served from Quezon City tackled issues on human-centered development as the country wrestled with the continuing challenges of COVID-19 15 months under at times harsh community quarantine and the Ukraine conflict.
Resource persons and participants noted continuing reversals in gains from decades of struggle for decent work and against inequality and cobbled center, federation, local union interventions and programs to cope with uncertainties spawned by COVID-19, the Ukraine conflict and climate change, and inadequate responses by employers and government.
Participants appreciated the sharing of experiences of other countries, noted good practices from Japan, and wished more successful interventions were implemented in the country.
The 94 participants in the two webinars (39% women, 21% youth, 26/% from Japanese or related companies) represented eleven national trade unions, one associated federation and one associated national workers association, unions in four Japanese manufacturing enterprises in special economic zones, one union supplying a Japanese food importer, and other unions inside and outside the zones from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
The workshops presented and discussed important concerns, issues, challenges, and experiences in NTUC Phl and its affiliates’ struggle for “Inclusive and Sustainable Work and Work Relations Under the Pandemic and the New Government”
(1) “The Role and Chllenges of the Japanese Labor Movement 2022”
by JILAF Counselor KOICHI OYAMA
(2) “The Economy and Labor in the Philippines”:
NTUC Phl Perspective” by NTUC Phl HGS CEDRIC BAGTAS;
(3) “Labor Market and Industrial Relations 2020-2022”
by BLR/DOLE Med-Arbiter Atty. Ramon Saura III;
(4) “Trends and Challenges in Industrial Relations
in the Pandemic and the New Administration”
by Former DOLE Undersecretary Atty. BENEDICTO ERNESTO BITONIO;
(5) “Occupational Safety and Health in 2020-2022”
by DOLE Assistant Secretary Ma. Teresita S. Cucueco, CESO III
and Senior LEO Jennifer Obien, RN
(6) “The Future of Work and the Philippine Decent Work Country Programme”
by NTUC Phl HGS Cedric Bagtas and ERC TOPPS REYMILY STA. ANA;
(7) “What’s Happening to the Transition to Formality? (from Informal to Formal Employment)”
by BWSC/DOLE LEO III CYRUS POLICARPIO;
(8) “Labor Relations in Special Economic Zones and BPOs in C19”
30 June – PEZA Deputy Zone Administrator ALLAN DATAHAN
7 July – PEZA Director General Charito Plaza;
(10) ”IT-BPM (BPOs) in 2020-2022”
by ERC PFL Executive Vice President/VOICE President Angelita Senorin;
(11) “Challenges in Education and Social Dialogue”
by TOPPS General Secretary MARIA TERESA AGUSTIN and
NATOW President JOSEPH JOVELLANOS;
(12)”Transition to Green Sustainable Jobs, Productivity in 2020-2022”
by NWPC-DOLE Director II Atty. ALVIN CURADA;
Status of Philippine Action on Green Economy
By NTUC Phl HGS Cedric Bagtas
NTUC Phl Treasurer and NATOW General Secretary MILAGROS OGALINDA led the discussions on the Objectives of the workshops; the Conclusions and Recommendations AND What Have Been Accomplished from the 2018-2021 workshops; and the 2022 Conclusions and Recommendations.
Workshop groups considered inputs from NTUC Phl and affiliates and recommended/pledged actions at the national, federation and local levels on issues from 2018-2021, including local-level action on the targets for advocacy and activities in 2022.
NTUC Phl President RODOLFO CAPOQUIAN, through Atty. Genesys Capokyan, said the unprecedented challenges of the multiple crises – Covid-19, Ukraine and its frightening effects on prices of oil and commodities, supply disruptions, global inflation and uncertainty, as well as climate change – demand forceful local and international action. He expressed appreciation for the continuing support of JILAF in jointly confronting the many challenges of employment security and industrial relations, including in helping NTUC’s women and young leaders prepare for “taking over stewardship of our national center” and helping chart the future of trade unions. He reiterated NTUC’s call for ratification of ILO Convention 190 on violence and harassment in the world of work.
JILAF Counselor KOICHI OYAMA pointed to the JILAF industrial relations seminars which have taken place in many countries for many years, including those in the Philippines which started in 1991, the JILAF invitation program. He cited these seminars as important opportunity for thinking about what trade unions can contribute and do for the future. “The trade union role in solving problems is crucial and places great responsibility on trade unions.”
He noted the enthusiastic participation in the intense seminars, the liively atmosphere in exchanging thoughts and insights. Japan and the Philippines differ in circumstances, state history and social structure, but face common challenges threatening workers life and safety, like the pandemic, rising energy and resource prices and general inflation. He hopes that trade unions in the two countries will develop together in solidarity, and learning from more discussionsl. He wishes that the knowledge and experiences gained will be of use in future work for constructive industrial relations and development of the labor movement.
The First Secretary of the Japanese Embassy in the Philippines CHIHIRO KANNO commended the continued JILAF/NTUC Phl cooperation for constructive dialogue and gaining insights on Japanese industrial relations. He noted that more workers have returned to work, although the situation remains difficult, with rising costs. Many people still need assistance; good social dialogue can give sense of assurance and help eliminate anxiety and mental health issues. Constructive labor-management relations are essential for successful implementation of programs. The challenges in the past two years have given much learning and built resilience. These discussions give guidance to stakeholders on future actions leading to progress in employment, decent work for all and adapting to the new future of work.
GC members Roland de la Cruz (1st batch) and Ma. Teresa Cayabyab (2nd batch) read NTUC Phl President’s Closing statement. President Capoquian stressed that trade unions have many issues of differing priorities, issues that do not get resolved by themselves, but need to be addressed. They require study, analysis, discussions, consultations, social dialogue, even forceful collective advocacy at times. He noted that “It is clear in the webinar sessions that we need to strengthen our actions at the local level.” [O]ur education activities are now starting to contribute, not only at the center level, but also to local union achievements.” He reiterated appreciation to JILAF for these valued annual opportunities to deepen unionists’ knowledge and skills for better engagement. He highlighted that what participants learn in these seminars gets translated to union action at the federation and local levels, which are regularly monitored and evaluated.
The women and youth representatives of participants in the two webinars expressed appreciation for the lively and stimulating workshops, that they learned many things, ideas, information, statistics, issues, challenges, strategies, vision, that they will share with others. They pledge more accomplishments in their individual and collective organizing, negotiation, advocacies and contributions to meeting the global challenges.