Global Solidarity for Jobs, Rights, Safety, and Accountability in the Philippines

Philippines’ Day of Action (30 November) - Sharan Burrow
by [ITUCCSI->]

For years, the Philippines has been and remains one of the ten worst countries for workers and trade unions as rated by the ITUC Global Rights Index. The Council of Global Unions (CGU) confirms that 46 trade unionists have been murdered by extra-judicial killings for their trade union work since the Duterte administration came to power in 2015. Trade unions are challenged by anti-union discrimination, contractualisation of work, and violence, as well as red-tagging and the criminalisation of their leaders and activists.

The hardships and job losses in the millions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic are exploited by the government to further attack human rights defenders and also freedom of the press and freedom of expression. The shutdown in June of ABS-CBN, the largest news broadcast agency in the country; the arrest of Maria Ressa, prominent journalist and founder of independent online news outlet Rappler; and the killings of media workers are examples of such attacks on human life and rights and freedom.

In the name of counter-insurgency, the Anti-Terrorism Act was enacted on 3 July to give the national security apparatus sweeping powers to criminalise – under the pretext of terrorism – individuals, organisations and the legitimate exercise of civilian rights and trade union activities. Unwarranted surveillance, arrest and detention are used. In January, the industrial police – the Joint Industrial Peace Concerns Office (JIPCO) – against communist infiltration was established in the export processing and economic zones to surveil militant unions, and a list of “terrorists” is being compiled by the newly established Anti-Terrorism Council.

The Duterte administration pressed ahead with these new attacks on human and trade union rights despite international condemnation and mass protests by trade unions and civil society in the country. In June, the OHCHR reported systematic human rights violations in the Philippines, including 8,663 killings of civilians and children under President Duterte’s anti-drug campaign, institutionalised red-tagging, extrajudicial killings of 208 human rights defenders, and persistent impunity. Twenty-eight UN Special Rapporteurs jointly called for a UN independent investigation into the human rights situations in the Philippines. On 17 September, the European Parliament adopted the resolution to urge for the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) investigation that would lead to the withdrawal of trade preferences with the Philippines if human rights deteriorations persist.

The government has yet to accept the ILO High-Level Tripartite Mission following the examination of freedom of association in the Philippines at the International Labour Conference in 2019.

For the second year in a row, the CGU is mobilising global solidarity to support the trade union movement in the Philippines.

CGU Webinar on Global Day of Action in the Philippines: Quest for Justice on 23 November, 13:00-14:40 CET/20:00-21:40 Manila time (registration here) during which trade unions and their families will give testimonies.

Global Day of Action - Jobs, Rights, Safety, Accountability in the Philippines (Trabaho, Karapatan, Kaligtasan, Pananagutan) on 30 November – Bonifacio Day – the day in the Philippines dedicated to the Philippine working-class hero Andrés Bonifacio (banner).

The CGU and ITUC affiliates in the Philippines, as well as Nagkaisa, the largest labour coalition of 49 trade unions and labour organisations in the country, will stage a national protest at the University of the Philippines on 30 November. Affiliates are asked to mobilise solidarity actions on the same day to support the demands of the Filipino trade union movement:

  1. Stop red-tagging against trade unions and civil society organisations and demand accountability for the extrajudicial killings.
  2. Repeal the Anti-Terrorism Act and the implementation regulations.
  3. Provide health security and safety at work for all.
  4. Provide job and income protection in public employment programs.
  5. Accept the ILO High-Level Tripartite Mission to the Philippines.
  6. Ratify ILO Convention No. 190 to eliminate violence and harassment at work.
  7. Call on the European Commission to initiate the GSP investigation of the Philippines on human and labour rights compliance.


Download graphics, banners for the webinar and the global action day here:
- Graphic 1
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Follow ITUC affiliates on the social media :
- Friends of Free Workers
- KMU International @kilusangmayouno
- Sentro @sentrolabor
- TUCP Labour Centre
- Nagakaisa Labour Coalitions @nagkaisa

Find more about trade union actions in the Philippines and international solidarity:

- Civil society and trade unions protested Anti-Terrorism Act #JunkTerror Bill (July).
- Labour coalitions stopped labour advisory No.17 on temporary wage and benefits adjustment amid the pandemic (September).
- Nagkaisa adopts trade union Agenda on Recovery (SOLAR) and public employment to address decent work deficit amid the pandemic (October).
- Statement of the ITUC, CGU and international unions condemning the Anti-Terrorism Act.
- Global Unions welcome the European Parliament’s resolution on the Philippines (September).
- UNI-Philippines Liaison Council (24 July), Alliance of Concerned Teachers – EI (1 September) petitioned for constitutional review and injunction of the Anti-Terrorism Act.
- IUF campaign on Coca-Cola for union busting during public health emergency (June).
- IFJ condemns killing of freelance journalist (18 November). once per page —>