The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)-Bureau of Labor Relations (BLR) conducted the Luzon-Wide Consultation on the Development of a Tripartite Roadmap on Freedom of Association on 25 April 2023 at Alta D’ Tagaytay, Tagaytay City.
This consultation facilitated by BLR Director Maria Consuelo S. Bacay, gathered various social partners from different regional offices of government agencies and Regional Tripartite Industrial Peace Councils (RTIPC) labor and employer representatives in NCR, Regions 1, 2, 3, 4A, and 5.
In his opening remarks, Atty. Roy L. Buenafe, Regional Director of DOLE-Regional Office No.4-A, stressed the importance of bridging differences in perspectives and promoting a common understanding of principles of freedom of association through continuous education and training to address gaps in the implementation of policies and ensuring that agreements and policy directives at the national are observed and reflected on the ground.
He called on all sectors and government agencies together to resolve long-standing concerns on the Philippine application of Conventions 87 and 98, which undeniably impacted our trade and economy.
Atty. Argyle Karen L. Bajas, BLR Mediator-Arbiter, discussed the available remedies to trade unionists whose rights to organize and to collectively bargain were allegedly violated.
Substantial inputs gathered during the sharing session include: (i) the recommendation to create a Task Force to strengthen inter-agency coordination among government stakeholders, (ii) to promote common understanding to intensify the information drive, emphasizing that the stakeholders should realize that rights are always accompanied by obligations under the law and (iii) that the DOLE should look into fly-by-night unions which compromise legitimate labor organizations.
In his closing remarks, Undersecretary Benedicto Ernesto R. Bitonio Jr. stressed five points: (i) strengthening inter-agency coordination and information sharing between and among government agencies to expedite the resolution of cases, (ii) improving education and training of stakeholders, including state agents, about freedom of association and the existing Guidelines governing their conduct relative to the workers’ exercise of the right to organize and concerted activities, (iii) reminding law enforcement agencies that requests for list of union members should be upon the order by a competent authority given the sensitive nature of the information being requested, (iv) emphasizing the Department’s expertise to conduct labor education and expressing willingness to educate law enforcement agencies in relation to their request for DOLE’s clearance to require businesses to allow them to conduct orientations or lectures in the establishments, and (v) enjoining affected trade unionists or labor organizations to avail of existing legal remedies where there is a violation of their rights.
The development of a tripartite roadmap on Freedom of Association engaged the participants in an awareness-raising activity to promote a common understanding of the principles and application of freedom of association among trade unions and concerned law enforcement agencies.
Similar area-based consultations were held in Iloilo City on March 17, 2023, for the Visayas Cluster and in Cagayan De Oro City on March 28, 2023, for the Mindanao Cluster.
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