‘No guarantee of right’ for PH workers, says report

May. 22, 2014

TAGUM CITY—“No guarantee of right.”

This is the ominous message of an international alliance of labor rights groups to workers in countries, the Philippines included, which were rated as the world’s worst places to work.

Countries with a numerical scale of 5, where the Philippines is included and is ranked 24th out of 139 countries, are found to have legal and labor structures that do not assure protection and better working conditions, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) said in capping its survey on countries labor conditions around the world.

In its Global Right Index report, it said that  “countries with the rating of 5 are the worst countries in the world to work in”.

“While the legislation may spell out certain rights workers have effectively no access to these rights and are therefore exposed to autocratic regimes and unfair labour practices,”  said the ITUC, an alliance of regional trade confederations that advocates for labor rights around the world.

It ranked countries on a 1 (best) through 5 (worst) scale on the basis of how well workers’ rights are protected using 97 internationally recognized indicators to assess where workers’ rights are best protected, in law and in practice.

The ITUC Global Rights Index covers violations in 139 countries recorded over the past 12 months from April 2013-March 2014.

In a foreword to the report, ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow, said that workers in at least 53 countries “have either been dismissed or suspended from their jobs for attempting to negotiate better working conditions”.

“In the vast majority of these cases the national legislation offered either no protection or did not provide dissuasive sanctions in order to  hold abusive employers accountable. Indeed, employers and governments are complicit in silencing workers’ voices against exploitation,” Burrow said.

The ITUC ranked and clustered the 139 countries using indicators derived from International Labor Organizations (ILO) Conventions and jurisprudence which are grouped into five categories: Fundamental civil liberties; the right to establish or join unions; trade union activities; the right to collective bargaining; and the right to strike.

These indicators also  include also the ability of workers to join unions, win collective bargaining rights and have access to due process and legal protections.

The ITUC report may mirror the criticism hurled by the militant Kilusang Mayo Uno that described the country’s economic growth as “fake which has not been felt by majority of Filipino workers and worker’s labor rights are violated.”

“Economic growth that’s not felt by the poor majority could only be fake. The situation of the Filipino workers and the poor in general has only gotten worse under Aquino,” said KMU chairperson Elmer Labog.

“The number of the unemployed has grown and life has become harder for the working poor. Aquino is clearly unfamiliar with the dire economic situation of the majority of Filipinos,” Labog said.

Citing a recent study by independent think-tank Ibon Foundation, he said the unemployment in the country grew from 4.37 million in 2011 to 4.49 million in 2013 while the number of jobs created shrunk from 1.2 million in 2010 to 317,000 in 2013.

“The gap between the minimum wage and the Family Living Wage has grown, that contractual employment has further spread, and that cases of trade-union rights violations have increased under Aquino.”

The KMU said for instance, that on May 5, 2006, an international fact-finding mission said that “the military is being used by plantations in Southern Mindanao to harass and intimidate workers from forming or joining unions”.

On November 13, 2012, it said that members of the Freshmax Workers Union-National Federation of Labor Unions-KMU (FWU-NAFLU-KMU) went on strike after negotiations failed between the union and the management over workers’ salaries and benefits

On January 2014, the Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farm (Namasufa), the union of plantation workers of Sumifru Philippines, filed a complaint against the contract grower for alleged threat and harassment when a company official reportedly brandished and fired his gun to disperse the rally of workers.

ITUC identified eight countries with a dismal  5+ rating  labelled as “no guarantee of rights due to the breakdown of the rule of law”. They are Central African Republic, Libya, Palestine,  Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan , Syria and Ukraine .

In cluster 5, there are 23 countries, including the Philippines, labelled as “No guarantee of right”. These are Algeria, Bangladesh, Belarus, Cambodia, China,  Colombia,  Cote d’ivoire,  Egypt,  Fiji,  Greece, Guatemala,India, Laos, Malaysia, Nigeria, , Qatar, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Swaziland,Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

In Cluster 4, there are 30 countries labelled  with “Systematic violation of rights”: Argentina, Bahrain, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Iran,Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Sierra Leone, Thailand, United States of America, Yemen

In Cluster 3, there 33 countries labelled as “Regular violation of rights”: Australia, Bahamas, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burundi, Canada, Chad, Chile, Costa Rica, Djibouti, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Georgia, Ghana, Israel, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Romania, Singapore, Sri Lanka,  Taiwan, Tanzania, Uganda, United Kingdom and Venezuela.

In Cluster 2, there 27 countries labelled with “Repeated violation of rights”: Albania, Angola, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Hungary, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Latvia, Macedonia, Malawi, Moldova, New Zealand, Portugal, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Senegal, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, and Tunisia.

In Cluster 1, there are 18 countries labelled as “Irregular violation of right”: Barbados, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Lithuania, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, South Africa, Sweden, Togo  and Uruguay.

ITUC reported that in the past 12 months alone, governments of at least 35 countries have arrested or imprisoned workers as a tactic to resist demands for democratic rights, decent wages, safer working conditions and secure jobs.

In at least nine countries murder and disappearance of workers were used as a common practice in order to intimidate workers.

The report also ranks the U.S. a dismal 4, a sign of “systematic violations” — collective bargaining rights are uneven across the U.S.’s states and unions are far weaker than some of their counterparts in northern Europe.

“We believe the ITUC Global Rights Index will serve as a useful monitoring tool for policy makers and socially responsible invenstors. It will redress the’misconception championed by the World Bank’s “Doing Business” report that driving down labour standards is good for business,” Burrow said. (davaotoday.com)


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