CIVIL SERVANTS’ RIGHT TO ORGANIZE | Senate OKs ratification of 39-year old ILO convention

August 14, 2017

With 22 affirmative votes and zero negative votes, the Senate on Monday concurred the ratification of the 39-year old ILO Convention protecting civil servants’ right to organize, as well as procedures for determining conditions of employment in public service.

President Rodrigo Duterte ratified the Convention last May 26, 2017.

The Senate’s approval on third reading of Senate Resolution No. 454, authored and sponsored by Senator Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, made the Philippines the first Asian country to ratify the convention, which is also known as the “Convention Concerning Protection of the Right to Organize and Procedures for Determining Conditions of Employment in the Public Service.”

ILO Convention No. 151 was first adopted on June 27, 1978 in Geneva, Switzerland entered into force on February 25, 1981.

“This will bolster the domestic and international status of the Philippines as a leader in promoting and protecting labor and civil rights,” Legarda said.

The Convention promotes sound labor relations between public authorities and public employees’ organizations through the protection of the right to organize, granting of facilities or privileges to its representatives, full development and utilization of machinery for negotiation of terms and conditions of employment, and promotion of civil and political rights of public employees.

Senator Joel Villanueva, chair of the Committee on Labor Human Resources Development and co-sponsor of the resolution, said that the approval “serves as a fitting recognition to the dedication of our country’s public servants and to the people they dutifully serve.”

The resolution applies to all persons employed by public authorities. The extent to which the guarantees in the Convention shall be applied, in so far as the high-level managerial, policy making and confidential employees are concerned, as well as the armed forces and the police, shall be determined by national law and regulations.

Legarda stated the importance of the ratification of the Convention: Public employees will enjoy better working conditions, have the opportunity to negotiate the terms and conditions of their employment, and have proper avenues to voice out their grievances.

For her part, Senator Risa Hontiveros said: “Ang tagumpay na ito ay bunga ng apat na dekadang pagod at paggigiit ng mga manggagawa sa pampublikong sektor para sa kanilang interes at karapatan (This triumph is the fruit of four decades of the public sector’s tireless striving to assert their rights and interest).”

Prior to the ILO Convention 151, the Philippine government had ratified several ILO treaties in the past such as the ILO Convention 87 on “Freedom of Association”, ILO Convention 98 on the “Right to Organize and Collectively Bargain” and ILO Convention 144 concerning “Tripartite Consultation”. It likewise complements Executive Order 180, serving as a model in improving labor relations in government.

As of January 2015, data from the Civil Service indicate that of the 1,944 registered unions in the public sector, only 992 or less than half have achieved accreditation status, while only 813 have collective negotiation agreements.

Union activities are also stifled given the lack of definitive mechanisms on conciliation and mediation and dispute resolution in the public sector, leading to demoralization and unresolved issues between management and workers.

Source: Interaksyon