Trade Union Congress of the Philippines - TUCP

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) stands ready to partner with the Marcos Administration, especially as its trade strategy under the newly-appointed Special Adviser on Investments and Economic Affairs Sec. Frederick Go is being recalibrated to attract more foreign direct investments and actualize the investment pledges made.

“We have to go beyond ease of doing business, eliminating red tape, and amendments to the Public Service Act and Retail Trade Liberalization Act. Trade with the US and Europe, especially concerning Philippines exports being given tariff-free access to these export markets, is now increasingly anchored on demonstrating labor rights compliance and good governance. Enjoyment of these trade preferences for our exports is now key in incentivizing and accelerating the entry of Foreign Direct Investments to the country as well as for encouraging business expansion of existing enterprises,” said TUCP Vice President Luis C. Corral.

“While it is true that unemployment decreased to 3.6% in November, most of the decrease is attributable to temporary seasonal Christmas and Holiday jobs and a lower labor participation rate. What Filipinos want and deserve are regular and decent jobs. Employment creation is really the ambit of the Economic Managers and this is where the Trade Czar’s signals can lead to the kind of Philippine trade policy that will fully be in line with the race-to-the-top trade policies being promoted by both the American and European Governments that place a premium on the observance of fundamental labor rights, just transition, and climate change needs,” explained Corral.

“How Sec. Go goes about it and how fast the economic management team re-engineers its strategy will largely determine the pace of foreign investments. For labor, its beneficial effects or negative effects will be whether they can hold down a regular job to put food on the table for their families. TUCP knows it will determine what kind of jobs Filipinos will have, where and with what kind of salaries, and under what terms of employment,” added Corral.

“TUCP proposes a whole-of-society response to ensure that workers and their rights are upheld at all times so that more foreign investors can set up shop here with the expectation as a result of worker rights-friendly policies, that their products produced here can be exported tariff-free, such as through EU GSP+ and US GSP, that opens access to European and American markets with zero tariff to a total of nearly 10,000 product lines,” added the TUCP official. “That translates to the creation of hundreds of thousands of decent, well-paying jobs here at home,” said Corral.

The TUCP believes that the Marcos Administration can capture the massive investment potential and employment potential by promoting a progressive, worker-centered, labor relations system in the Philippines. “Let’s make it a major plank of our economic strategy, since international trade, especially with the US and EU, is now linked to ensure greater respect for labor rights. In the December mission of Philippine labor leaders to Washington, D.C., we met with key officials of the US government including US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, and both emphasized the Biden Administration’s main thrust of advancing worker-centered trade through his landmark memorandum on US GLOBAL LABOR STRATEGY and the game-changing Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF). In all those meetings, the bottom line is clear—our national economy will benefit greatly from trade, investment, and employment opportunities but it must be accompanied by the labor rights situation in our country changing also for the better,” emphasized Corral.

“This entails primarily acting on the findings and recommendations of the International Labor Organization (ILO) for the Philippines and enacting long-pending priority labor legislation on freedom of association. These vital reforms will upgrade our investment profile and the global stature of the Philippines as truly modern and modernizing under the Marcos Administration. Investment attractiveness now is also about how well we treat our workers, ” emphasized Corral.

Freedom of Association bills authored by TUCP President and House Deputy Speaker Raymond Democrito C. Mendoza include: (i) Promoting ease of union registration; (ii) Rationalizing the sweeping power of the Labor Secretary to assume jurisdiction over labor disputes only to essential industries; and (iii) Removing dismissal and imprisonment as penalties for illegal strike.

“We feel these bills are easy enough to do. In fact, they were recommended by ILO, as far back as 2002, as right and just in order to uphold workers’ fundamental right to organize and freedom of association. Fast-tracking passage and enactment of these bills will accelerate our transformation into a Philippine society that is more prosperous and equitable—Bagong Hanapbuhay, Bagong Buhay sa Bagong Pilipinas para sa Manggagawang Pilipino,” underscored Corral.

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