EI supports ILO mission's denouncement of labour rights abuses in the Philippines

published 6 October 2009 updated 6 October 2009

EI supports the results of the high-level fact-finding mission of the International Labour Organization (ILO) to the Philippines, which asked the government to categorically denounce the killings of workers and the rampant violations of trade union rights.

The September ILO high-level fact-finding mission had been requested by the Workers Group at the ILO. Members of the ILO mission carried out interviews to clarify allegations of abductions, harassments and extra-judicial killings of unionists, workers and teachers on the basis of a complaint lodged by the Kilusang Mayo Uno (May First Movement) to the ILO two years ago.

The KMU said almost 100 workers and labor leaders have been summarily executed in the past four years, as part of the government's anti-insurgency campaign. The victims included nine teachers, two of whom were national officers of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, EI’s affiliate.

Expectedly, during the inquiry, the ILO mission said it was “confronted with contradictory statements concerning violence against trade unionists and the sufficiency of the efforts made by the government to ensure that workers may exercise their trade union rights in a climate free from fear.”

The government, in particular the military, has maintained that those who were killed were insurgents using labour as a front. Militant union groups said the killings were orchestrated to weaken the labour movement. In a press conference, the ILO team dodged specific questions about its initial impressions on the general labour situation in the country. However, it found gaps and proposed some recommendations, among them:

  1. A co-ordinated training of the national police and the armed forces on freedom of association and its linkages to civil liberties
  2. Training of judges and lawyers on international labor standards and their use in the judiciary
  3. Continuing education for the labor department and other government agencies on international labour standards
  4. The promotion of social dialogue.

The ILO team also recommended the creation of an independent tripartite monitoring to validate allegations of violations.

EI is satisfied with the materialisation and outcome of the ILO mission. In 2007, the EI Congress adopted a resolution calling the Arroyo government to:

  • stop extrajudicial killings;
  • investigate, prosecute, and punish those responsible for these acts;
  • and ensure that the security forces respect the human rights and civil liberties of citizens.

In 2008, EI also launched a Trade Union Rights Network (TURN) involving its members in the Philippines. The TURN provides a line of defense and a source of solidarity to the teacher unionists facing violations of their trade union rights.