Statement of the Commission on Human Rights supporting the plans of the PH government to ratify the international convention on labor inspection

Statement of the Commission on Human Rights supporting the plans of the PH government to ratify the international convention on labor inspection

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) welcomes the pronouncement of the Philippine government, through the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), expressing their intent to ratify the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 81 on Labor Inspection. The said convention is one of the six additional conventions proposed by the European Union (EU) Commission to trading country partners for their inclusion or renewal in the EU Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+).

Since 2014, the Philippines has benefited from its GSP+ status, generating billions from the increased access of product exports to the EU market. However, for trading partners such as the Philippines to retain this status, they must comply with human rights standards stated in 27 United Nations and ILO conventions on labor; good governance; environment and climate; rule of law; and human rights.

As such, the Commission supports the ratification of ILO Convention 81. CHR underlines that, aside from ensuring the nation’s economic growth and transnational relations, this is an opportunity to demonstrate the government’s commitment to uphold workers’ labour and economic rights.

Once the ILO Convention 81 is ratified, the government must adopt and maintain a labor inspection system in industrial workplaces. These include the assessment of legal provisions relating to hours, wages, health and safety, welfare, the employment of minors, technical development, as well as workplace abuses. Additionally, such inspections must engage qualified technical experts and specialists to provide objective evaluation of workplace conditions and protection of workers.

Ratifying ILO Convention 81 is aligned with the government’s obligation to improve the people’s enjoyment of their economic, social, and cultural rights, particularly by granting full protection to workers’ right to self-organisation, collective bargaining, security of tenure, and a just and humane working condition through a robust system of labour inspection.

CHR stresses that addressing labour issues and crafting policies to solve them should be primary in the government’s post-pandemic recovery plans. Not only will it uplift the working class, it will also help cushion the impacts of rising inflation to the Filipino people. CHR hopes for the continued prioritisation of workers’ dignity and plight. May their efforts to amplify labour concerns through organisation and assembly not be maligned, but instead be seen as an opportunity for mutual benefit and cooperation.

On this note, we similarly look forward to the government’s positive consideration and action on other areas of concern raised by EU monitoring mission, including the government’s actions regarding the so-called ‘war on drugs,’ accountability for extrajudicial killings, restrictions of civil society space (including red tagging of human rights defenders), freedom of expression, opinion and media, anti-torture legislation, anti-terrorism laws, freedom of association, child labour, drugs policy, environment and climate change, as well as corruption.

CHR notes the Trade department’s statement citing the “transition to a preventive and rehabilitative anti-illegal drugs campaign, assurance of press freedom, and a vow to combat climate change” as developments by the administration in relation to human rights. The challenge at hand is to ensure that pronouncements and policies are translated to action that will effect a substantial impact in the way the rights of every Filipino is respected and protected. ###