Industrial Relations and Labour Policy Seminar in the Philippines

Opening ceremony

 JILAF, together with the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), held an industrial relations and labour policy seminar in Manila on May 18–19 on the theme of “The Role of Government, Labour, and Management in the Global Economy and the Creation and Stabilization of Domestic Employment through the Building of Constructive Industrial Relations.” The seminar, which was the first large-scale seminar to be held anywhere in the current fiscal year, was attended by about 100 people involved in labour affairs, including TUCP President Ruben Torres and First Secretary Manabu Yasukawa of the Japanese Embassy in the Philippines.

 At the beginning of the seminar, addresses were given by TUCP President Torres, First Secretary Yasukawa, and JILAF Executive Director Takao Yasunaga, after which JILAF and the TUCP explained their respective understanding of the current situation and issues. In a lecture titled “The Role of Japanese Trade Unions and Issues,” JILAF Executive Director Yasunaga gave an overview of efforts in Japan to stabilize employment through constructive industrial relations, the organizational structure and activities of Japanese trade unions (especially wage demands and negotiations and the labour-management consultation system), and campaigning to realize policies.

 In response, the participants asked questions and stated their views on such topics as the involvement of trade unions in politics and with political parties, the mechanism for determining minimum wages in Japan, the union activities of teachers, and also whether the system of three days off a week, which is being considered in the Philippines, is being considered in Japan as well. JILAF Executive Director Yasunaga gave pertinent replies.

 On the TUCP side, the chair of the TUCP’s Education Committee gave an overview of industrial relations in the Philippines, saying that although the country was achieving economic growth, wages were not rising, the unemployment rate was high, and unstable employment was a problem. The speaker analyzed present conditions, including the deterioration of working conditions in special export zones, the hollowness of the new labour code, and expanding poverty and inequality, and called for solutions through organization and collective bargaining.

 In the next session, prior to discussions, President David Diwa of the National Labour Unions reported on the compilation and state of implementation of policies relating to industrial relations, employment stability, and the system of settling industrial disputes in the Philippines, and Teresita Cucueco, who is in charge of working conditions at the Department of Labour and Employment, explained how, following a recommendation by the International Labour Organization (ILO), a company inspection system had been established in the Philippines in 2013 and, as a result of increases in the number of inspectors and online services, inspections were now made every 2 years rather than every 16 years as before. These presentations were followed by discussions.

 Presentations by the participants continued on the second day, with TUCP Women’s Committee Chair Florencia Cabatingan speaking about the state of female labour, TUCP General Secretary Rodolfo Capoquian about industrial disputes in special export zones and their settlement, and President Angelita Senorin of the Voice of the Call Center Industry (VOICE) about the present state of business process outsourcing workers. Lively discussions followed these presentations.

 In addition, President Susanita Tesiorna of the Alliance of Workers in the Informal Sector (ALLWIES) spoke about the real causes of poverty and the need for countermeasures and Elmar Noriega of the National Alliance of Teachers and Office Workers (SMP-NATOW) and a representative of the Teachers Organization of the Philippine Public Sector (TOPPS) reported on industrial relations in the field of education (private and public sectors, respectively). Education workers not only have long working hours but also are often hired on an informal basis, so, as the speakers said, trade unions need to make efforts to demand policy changes. After all the presentations and discussions, groups of participants presented action plans stating how they would utilize what they had learned through the seminar in their activities from now on.

 In the closing ceremony JILAF Executive Director Yasunaga commented that technological innovations, such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, and the introduction of foreign capital were inevitable in the future and emphasized that constructive industrial relations would be important in these circumstances in order to ensure and stabilize employment. He expressed hope for the participants’ activities from now on.


05/18ThuIndustrial relations and labour policy seminar (day 1) (Venue: Manila H20 Hotel)
05/19FriIndustrial relations and labour policy seminar (day 2) (Venue: Manila H20 Hotel)

Photos of the Participants

Scene of the seminar

Questions and answers

Closing ceremony