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TUCP lauds Marcos-Biden meeting: Time is ripe for a labor dialogue with PBBM as we look forward to US-PH Labor Working Group

Trade Union Congress of the Philippines - TUCP

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) lauds the total and complete package of guarantees brought about by the Marcos-Biden meeting. “This is a game-changing and pivotal development—a rocket booster—to revive our economy and situate the Philippines as the new preferred foreign direct investment (FDI) hub. This special US-Philippines friendship and alliance affirms Philippine sovereignty through the ‘iron-clad’ security pact and brings in key investments for renewables, mineral resources, solar energy, nuclear power, electric vehicles, green transition, food security, and other infrastructure. It means 76,000 new jobs for Filipino seafarers. It also means securing our fishing waters for our long-bullied fishermen and long-suffering consumers,” emphasized TUCP President and House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Raymond C. Mendoza.

“We especially welcome and look forward to the establishment of the United States-Philippine Labor Working Group announced by Their Excellencies President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. and US President Joe Biden as they underscored their commitment to upholding human rights, especially freedom of association, and other internationally recognized labor rights,” said Deputy Speaker Mendoza.

“The TUCP believes that with this US-Philippine Labor Working Group, a dialogue with President Marcos and the Philippine labor movement is ripe to place workers’ rights and welfare front and center of the Marcos Administration’s labor and economic policies. Let us not waste the investment and employment potential of our US-Philippines special friendship and alliance. We trust our trade relations will be founded on advancing human rights so that workers can freely and safely organize without any prior restraint,” underscored Deputy Speaker Mendoza.

“It is of utmost importance that our economic managers and state forces understand that trade unions are there for ensuring safe and healthy workplaces, just compensation and benefits, and consequently, this will translate to higher productivity, greater competitiveness, and enhanced profitability. These are provided by existing laws and Constitutionally guaranteed and thus, should not result in killings, harassment, or imprisonment,” stated TUCP President and House Deputy Speaker Mendoza.

“Also, since the premise in establishing a U.S.-PH Labor Working Group pursuant to the U.S.-Philippine Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) is advancing human rights and ensuring workers can organize freely and safely, the TUCP believes that it is not referring to the existing DOLE and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) labor working group. The intended TIFA Labor Working Group should include not just DOLE, but critically the DTI and Department of Finance (DOF) with a view to linking fiscal incentives to observance with international labor standards and our labor laws,” added Deputy Speaker Mendoza.

“We deeply appreciate the earnest efforts of President Marcos, Jr., and President Biden to bring to the fore the advancement of human rights and implementation of internationally recognized labor rights. The TUCP urges the inclusion of genuine and meaningful workers’ representation in the Labor Working Group or in a mechanism for exchange and dialogue among U.S. and Philippine governments and labor unions as indicated in the Fact Sheet of the US-PH Joint Statement. Representatives from the Philippine labor movement should have a seat at the table because they are precisely at the forefront of the long-standing workers’ issues regarding violations of workers’ rights which we need to meaningfully address as soon as possible, consistent with the recommendations of the ILO High-Level Tripartite Mission,” said TUCP Vice President Luis Corral.

TUCP reiterates that labor representation is critical in the U.S.-Philippine Labor Working Group and cannot be as it is now, where it is just the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) glossing over trade union rights violations for far too long. We can only put life and meaning into the principles articulated in the Marcos-Biden statement under a truly democratic and sincere Labor Secretary who is firmly grounded on the principles of internationally recognized workers’ rights and embraces tripartism and social dialogue towards inclusive and sustainable economic growth. Let us not waste this opportunity to provide decent jobs and living wages to the Filipino workers and their families who should rightfully reap the fruits of their labor,” emphasized TUCP VP Corral.

“We call on all other relevant government agencies to fully and faithfully carry out the labor component of the Marcos-Biden agreement. For far too long, the DOLE, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and other economic managers have played ‘smoke-and-mirrors.; With this landmark Marcos-Biden initiative for a US-Philippine Labor Working Group, the stage should be set for more, better, and decent jobs,” said TUCP VP Corral.

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