The mission, lead by general secretary Valter Sanches, coincided with the passage of a bill on expanded maternity leave by the House of Representatives that will soon become law. This is a major victory for unions in the Philippines who have long campaigned on the issue. IndustriALL has campaigned on maternity protection since 2014. The IndustriALL mission recognizes the struggle of affiliates for better working conditions for men and women workers in the country.
Meeting with labour department officials, Sanches expressed the need for more collaborative work with trade unions in the fight against precarious work, and for the passage of a security of tenure bill that is still pending at the Senate. The bill seeks to protect employment security of workers and guarantees their rights and benefits.
In a dialogue with the leadership of IndustriALL’s Philippine affiliates and their women’s committee leaders, Sanches lauded the effort of women leaders in improving maternity protection, their support for 40 per cent women’s representation, and campaigns for the advancement of women in leadership.
“We need to make sure that gender equity is reflected at the workplaces and in unions. It is important that women’s needs are reflected in union strategies, and it has to be inclusive”, said Sanches.
In a message conveyed to affiliates, Sanches emphasized the importance of building unity among affiliates and to establish more sustainable unions.
“IndustriALL is a solidarity organization. Unions that are well off extend support to those who are in need to make organizations stronger. Considering that union density in the Philippines is still at a low of eight per cent, affiliates have a lot of opportunity to organize. This is where the spirit of building unions as one of our key strategic goals sets in”, he added.
Sanches also met with legislators who supported security of tenure and other labour-related bills. There was an exchange of information on the political, economic and trade union contexts and programmes in the Philippines, Brazil and the rest of the world.
“The issue on the future of work will be challenging for trade unions. IndustriALL is preparing to meet these challenges and we are ready to engage at all levels”, said Sanches at a meeting with ILO officials in Manila.
The Philippine visit ended with a plant tour at a Toyota manufacturing facility, where Sanches extend solidarity message to the unions and congratulated them for having established industrial harmony between workers and the management.
Sanches expressed positivity about working more with Philippine affiliates in the future. He said that unions need to seize the moment and hope that victories attained inspire workers here and abroad. He said that the Philippine unions can count on the support of IndustriALL in the coming campaigns.