Philippines: Nagkaisa Coalition (FFW/Sentro) Dialogue Meeting with the Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment

Statement of Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz (Department of Labor and Employment) on the freedom of association and the right to strike

In the relation to the ITUC’s Campaign on the Right to Strike, kindly be informed that the Federation of Free Workers (FFW) together with Sentro and other labor groups within the Nagkaisa Coalition - the biggest coalition of labor groups in the Philippines today, will be having a Dialogue Meeting with the Honorable Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment Rosalinda Dimapilis Baldoz on February 18, 2015, at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, to have her view on the matter, or convince her about the Right to Strike as part of ILO Conventions 87 and 98, if necessary.

On the Global Day of Action for the right to strike, workers belonging to the Act2Win Coalition marched to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Intramuros, Manila to urge the continued respect of the workers’ right to strike.

“It is an urgent concern since employers’ representatives from different countries at the International Labor Conference gave a distorted view that freedom of association does not include the right to strike,” said Atty. Sonny Matula, president of the Federation of Free Workers (FFW).

“They are letting go of the last bargaining lever of workers to improve their wages and benefits,” added Matula.

The Philippines is a signatory to the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 87 that spells out the right of workers to organize into trade unions.

“It is settled without doubt that under the Convention, the right to organize includes the twin fundamental rights: (1) to collectively bargain; and, (2) to concerted activities including the right to strike,” Matula clarified.

The FFW is a member of the Act2Win, an alliance of trade unions campaigning against contractualization of work and advocating for a significant wage increase. The coalition also has for its members, the Kilusang Mayo Uno, Alliance of Filipino Workers, Koalisyon ng mga Progresibong Manggagawa at Mamamayan among others.

The ILO’s Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations did not make any new interpretation on the provisions of Convention 87 as they just adopted what has long been recognize by tripartite partners.

“The trade union movement in the Philippines is one with the International Trade Union Confederation and Global Union Federations in upholding this view,” said Matula.

“Employers can no longer question what has long been settled. Otherwise chaos and anarchy will reign,” Matula added.

Under Article 31 and 32 of the Vienna Convention of Treaties, long practice and long time application are controlling in interpretation of treaties. Recognizing the right to strike as indispensable part of the right to organize, is well established in the fundamental laws, labor legislations and jurisprudence in majority of the ILO member countries as found in a survey.