If the treaty is ratified later this week, they will be the first country in Asia to do so
The Philippine Senate approved last week on second reading a committee report seeking to ratify an International Labour Organisation convention that would afford government workers equal labour rights to those in the private sector.
Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and sponsor of the committee report, said she is optimistic the Senate will pass the convention on third reading and ratify the treaty later this week.
“If we ratify this convention, we will be the first Asian country to do so,” she said. “This will bolster the domestic and international status of the Philippines as a leader in promoting and protecting labour and civil rights.”
Currently, Philippine government employees have fewer opportunities to negotiate terms and conditions of employment, among other rights available to private sector workers.
“This is the inequality that the treaty seeks to address,” Legarda said.
The treaty, if ratified, would provide government workers five guarantees:
- Protection of the right to organize
- Facilities for these public employee organizations
- Procedures for determining terms and conditions of employment
- Settlement of disputes arising from these procedures
- Civil and political rights
According to Rafael Mapalo, director of education at the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, these guarantees are sorely needed. “The issue of contractual workers in government is a serious concern that needs immediate and decisive action,” he said.
According to the Philippine Civil Service Commission, there are about 300,000 of these contractual workers currently employed by local government units. Come the end of their employment period, these workers are often neither terminated nor regularised. They’re simply rehired on the same terms, denying them the benefits of regularisation.
Legarda stressed that, through this convention, public employees would have more control over their working conditions and be provided the proper avenues to air their grievances.
“Civil servants have waited for 39 years for the ratification of this Convention,” she said. “The Senate’s concurrence is a vote in upholding and promoting their labour rights.”