labor rights

Labor groups laud Marcos’ ratification of ILO convention vs workplace harassment

Michelle Abad

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Labor groups laud Marcos’ ratification of ILO convention vs workplace harassment

CALL TO RATIFY. Labor groups gather to call on the Philippine government to ratify ILO Convention 190 on September 27, 2023.

Michelle Abad/Rappler

The ILO Convention Concerning the Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work needs the concurrence of the Senate to take effect

MANILA, Philippines – Various labor groups expressed messages of triumph after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. endorsed to the Senate an International Labor Organization (ILO) convention that would seek to end violence and harassment in the workplace.

In a letter to the Senate, dated October 13 but released to the media on Wednesday, November 8, Marcos expressed his endorsement of ILO Convention 190 (C190), or the Convention Concerning the Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work, and sought the Senate’s concurrence.

In the “world of work,” C190 encompasses all sectors – from public to private, urban and rural, and in the formal and informal economy. The convention provides a common framework to address violence and harassment, including gender-based violence, the President highlighted.

“The ratification of ILO C190 will fortify the Philippine government’s mandate and policy in promoting and protecting the rights of Filipino workers, locally and overseas, by pushing for a work environment with zero tolerance for violence and harassment,” said Marcos.

“After examining the text thereof, I find it advisable to ratify [ILO C190] and seek the Senate’s concurrence thereto,” he added.

Some labor groups in Metro Manila engaged in a “last push” to urge Marcos to ratify the convention on September 27, highlighting how it would address the intersectional issues that cause workplace violence.

Marcos’ endorsement of the convention comes after years of lobbying and work from the labor sector.

‘Groundbreaking global treaty’

Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) Representative Raymond Mendoza said that the President’s ratification of this “groundbreaking global treaty” demonstrated the President’s resolve towards a modern Philippine society.

“His leadership from the front solidifies the Philippines as the newest priority investment hub through progressive, worker-centered and race-to-the-top labor relations,” said Mendoza, who is TUCP president.

Mendoza also thanked House Speaker Martin Romualdez for “steering” the House to adopt House Resolution No. 43, which sought the immediate ratification of ILO C190 in January.

“When workers live and work under fear of violence and discrimination and quid pro quo workplace sexual harassment – ’kapit sa patalim’ – amid the survival crisis of joblessness and poor job quality, worker morale and productivity dwindle. Thus, ratifying ILO C190 holistically promotes the welfare of both labor and business,” he said.

Mendoza added that ratifying ILO C190 would also help the Philippines inch closer to the end of the long list of abuses and brutal killings of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), such as Jullebee Ranara, Jeanelyn Villavende, and Joanna Demafelis, among others.

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[OPINION] A safe and healthy working environment is a fundamental right for every worker

[OPINION] A safe and healthy working environment is a fundamental right for every worker
Victory of lobbying groups

In a joint statement, Public Services International (PSI), Building and Wood Workers International (BWI), IndustriALL Global Union, International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), and UNI Global Union cited the years of lobbying from labor groups for the Philippines to ratify the convention since it was adopted in 2019.

The groups urged the Senate to immediately concur.

“At a time when our workers continue to be subjected to different forms of violence and harassment including physical violence, psychological violence, sexual abuse and economic violence committed by various state and non-state offenders, ratifying ILO C190 is very much urgent and a big step forward towards ensuring decent work for all workers,” they said.

The groups also highlighted how the convention would help prevent discrimination against workers of various sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions (SOGIE), and similarly marginalized groups like persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, and other workers experiencing various forms of discrimination.

Meanwhile, the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa-Women (SENTRO-Women) said the state of the convention in the Philippines now is a product of years of campaigning, organizing, and mobilizing among workers.

“Sleepless nights were spent both on sharpening the content of the convention through direct participation in the ILO, and convincing governments such as the Philippines to support ratification,” said SENTRO-Women.

“Philippine ratification of C190 will be followed by a long and grueling process of instituting the necessary legislation, policies, and reforms to create an environment that fully respects the right of workers to live free from violence and harassment. To this end, the struggle for the emancipation and protection of the Filipino working class continues,” the group added.

Under the Philippine Constitution, for international treaties like ILO C190 to be valid and effective in the country, these need the ratification of the President, and the concurrence of at least two-thirds of all the members of the Senate. –

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Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a multimedia reporter at Rappler. She covers the rights of women and children, migrant Filipinos, and labor.