PH among top 10 dangerous countries for workers’ rights

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By Corina Oliquino

MANILA — The 2020 Global Rights Index by the International Trade Union Confederation listed the Philippines as among top 10 dangerous place for workers, lining it up with Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Honduras, India, Turkey, Zimbabwe and Kazakhstan.

The index rated 139 countries based on: no guarantee of rights due to the breakdown of the rule of law; no guarantee of rights; systematic violation of rights; regular violation of rights; repeated violation of rights and irregular violation of rights.

Its 2020 version rated 144 countries on a scale of 1 to 5 on the degree of respect given to workers in the country, with five the worst rating indicating “no guarantee of rights.”

In a report by The Philippine Star, world’s largest trade union federation ITUC established the Global Rights Index to increase the visibility and transparency of each country’s record on workers’ rights.

The ITUC, with 200 million workers from 163 countries through the 332-member national labor federations, has affiliates in the Philippines with the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), Federation of Free Workers, Sentro and Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU).

Meanwhile, the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU) backed the Index as they cite “actual circumstances on the ground, the current state of labor relations policy during the quarantine allowing wage reductions and suspending labor rights inspections, the anti-labor and the anti-consumer program of  our economic managers to raise anew excise taxes and opposing security of tenure, as well as the dangerous political slide towards authoritarianism evidenced by passage of the Anti-Terror Bill.”

“The ALU-TUCP) are fully in accord with the findings of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and stand by their listing of the Philippines as one of the top 10 most dangerous countries in the world for workers,” it said.

“We see the handwriting clearly on the wall: workers’ rights and workers are and will be victims in the current political environment,” ALU-TUCP spokesman Alan Tanjusay said.

ALU-TUCP said they are predicting “conditions to get worse” in the coming days.

“There remain unresolved assassinations, allegedly labor-related disappearances, various repressions, red-tagging and wanton attacks on workers and workers’ fundamental rights that makes the current environment dangerous and difficult for workers,” it said.

“Using the COVID-19 and the growing great global depression as the justification to justify and peddle their wrong-headed prescriptions to keep private profits high and social spending  low, is now making the country more dangerous and more difficult place for workers to live and to work and are promoting unproductive and very dangerous class warfare,” it added, urging the Duterte Administration to listen to the plight of workers and “remember the lessons of history.”

“In the midst of the last great depression in the 1930’s, there were two paths taken by different models of government, those who followed the totalitarian temptation and those who followed the path of worker protection and social protection,” ALU said.

“The former’s repression collapsed their countries and governments around them in bitterness, sorrow and World War defeat, while the latter model led to collective prosperity and increased grassroots democracy,” it added, asking the National Government to “step back from the brink of this totalitarian temptation and accept the path of building back better by upholding our individual civil and political liberties, respecting our collective economic rights, and by putting our workers interests first.”

In another report by Esquire Philippines, Coca-Cola, NutriAsia, Pepmaco and Pioneer Float Glass Manufacturing Inc. got a special mention in the index for alleged violence and deaths, arbitrary arrests, and union busting practices.

Global setting

ITUC’s 2020 index also pointed out that global violations against workers is on a seven-year high as “the existing repression of unions and the refusal of governments to respect rights and engage in social dialogue has exposed workers to illness and death and left countries unable to fight the pandemic effectively.”

Worldwide, 85 percent of countries have violated the right to strike, 80 percent violated the right to collective bargaining, 74 percent excluded workers from the right to establish or join a trade union and 72 percent have zero or restricted access to justice.

Moreover, workers were arrested in 61 countries while 56 countries have denied workers their freedom of speech and assembly.

Violence and harassment of workers have been reported in 51 countries including Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia, Honduras, South Africa, Iraq and the Philippines.

The Index also labelled Middle East and North Africa as the worst region for workers with an average score of 4.4 followed by the Asia Pacific with 4.09 due to systematic violation of rights, Africa with 3.77 and the Americas with 3.48 due to regular violation of rights.

Europe leads all continent with a score of 2.49 indicating only repeating violation of rights.

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