Philippines: random inspection for all enterprises, unions tell Department of Labour

Union leaders from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao urged the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to conduct random inspection of companies to strengthen compliance with core labor standards in all enterprises — micro, small, medium or large. Random inspections will keep enterprises on guard against labour standards violations, as management would not know whether, or when, their enterprises would be checked.

Random inspection is one of the recommendations of 62 federation and local union leaders who participated in two Capacity-Building Workshops on Core Labor Standards and Labor Standards Enforcement Framework (LSEF) conducted by TUCP, with support from the International Labour Organization (ILO), on 10-12 December 2009 in Quezon City.

Among other recommendations, unions also recommended an immediate review of the DOLE Self-Assessment Checklist to include the ILO’s Core Labour Standards comprised of the right to organize and collective bargaining, anti-child labor, freedom from discrimination and freedom from forced labor; more capacity-building programs for unions to ensure effective workers’ participation in labor inspection; and strengthen the linkage with corporate social responsibility (CSR) where LSEF should be anchored.

A TUCP/ILO random survey of union participation in LSEF in 2009 showed low awareness of self-assessment and low participation of unions in SA exercises, despite LSEF requirements.

The LSEF came into effect on 31 January 2004 by virtue of Department Order 57-04 series 2004. LSEF defines the approaches and strategies that are to be pursued by the regional implementers to ensure voluntary compliance with labour laws. As provided by Department Order 57-04, the LSEF encourages the proactive participation of establishments in labour standards enforcement through: (a) Self-Assessment (SA) for establishments with more than 200 workers and those with certified collective bargaining agreements, regardless of employment size; (b) Regular Inspection for establishments employing 10-199 workers; and, (c) Training and Advisory Visits (TAV) for establishments employing 1-9 workers and those registered as Barangay Micro Business Enterprises (BMBEs), regardless of employment size.

From the promulgation of LSEF, TUCP insisted that the government has the primary responsibility of checking compliance with labour standards. TUCP says it is not correct for the government to pass on its responsibility of inspection and enforcement of labour standards to the mere evaluation or goodwill of enterprises, especially those covered by the SA. It called attention to TUCP’s random survey of 202 enterprises in economic zones and industrial areas which found that all enterprises in these zones and areas had at least one labour standard violation or another in the survey period. TUCP says voluntary compliance labour standards will not work.

TUCP will dialogue with the Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC-DOLE) to discuss and adopt an action plan to address the recommendations.

(REM/PIA-Surigao del Norte)

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