Mr. President, distinguished colleagues:
For a well-functioning and stable government, attainment of our desired sustainable development goals, and a just, peaceful, prosperous and thriving society, it is indispensable for our country to have a public service with strong and effective civil servants and public employees.
That is why, it is my honor today to seek your concurrence to the ratification of ILO Labor Relations (Public Service) Convention 151 Concerning the Protection of the Right to Organise and Procedures for Determining Conditions of Employment in the Public Service, otherwise known as ILO 151.
Who are covered by this Convention? They are all persons employed by public authorities - the civil servants employed in the National Government Agencies (NGAs) and its attached agencies, bureaus, local government units (LGUs), and government-owned and controlled corporations.
Our 2.3 million civil servants are our unsung heroes. Their contribution to the security and safety of our nation, the protection of our democracy and way of life, the smooth running of our government, and ensuring our robust economy and expansion of trade, education of our youth, and the pursuit of our common ideals as a nation, is incalculable.
Yet compared to the workers in the private sector, they have less opportunities to negotiate terms and conditions of employment, among other rights which are available to private sector and other workers, leading to an unequal situation. We need to address this inequality.
ILO Convention 151 - Labor Relations (Public Service) Convention, 1978, was adopted on 27 June 1978, during the 64th Session of the International Labour Conference (ILC). It entered into force in 1981.
Fifty-three (53) states have already ratified the Convention.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed ILO 151 on 26 May 2017, making the first step towards Philippine ratification. If the Philippines completes the ratification process today upon the concurrence of the Senate, we will have the distinction of being the first Asian country to do so.
The rights of public sector employees are specified in the Convention as five types of guarantees: (1) Protection of the right to organize, (2) Facilities to be afforded to public employees' organizations (3) Procedures for determining terms and conditions of employment, (4) Settlement of disputes arising in connection with the determination of terms and conditions of employment, and (5) Civil and political rights.
The Convention guarantees the right of public employees to organize, provides adequate protection against acts of anti-union discrimination, and mandates that public employees organizations shall enjoy complete independence from public authorities.
Under this Convention, public employees shall have the same civil and political rights as other workers, which are essential to the exercise of freedom of association.
As an employer, the Government shall provide facilities to the representatives of recognized public employees' organizations to enable them to carry out their functions promptly and efficiently, both during and outside their hours of work, without impairing the efficient operation of the office.
Measures appropriate to national conditions shall encourage and promote the full development and utilization of machinery for negotiation of terms and conditions of employment between the public authorities concerned and public employees' organizations, or of such methods as will allow representatives of public employees to participate in the determination of these matters.
The settlement of disputes arising in connection with the determination of terms and conditions of employment shall be sought, as may be appropriate, through negotiation between the parties or through independent and impartial machinery, such as mediation, conciliation and arbitration.
NEED FOR RATIFICATION AND CONCURRENCE
There is a need to concur with the ratification for the following reasons:
1. The Philippines is a signatory to ILO 87 on Freedom of Association and ILO 98 on Collective Bargaining. Several observations have repeatedly noted that the rights under these Conventions are limited to the private sector. ILO 151 addresses a gap in international law, and affords protection for the millions of employees employed by public authorities of the ratifying countries all over the world.
2. The ratification and concurrence of ILO 151 is the Philippine government's commitment to its civil servants since it is included in the Philippine Labor and Employment Plan 2011-2016.
3. There is a clamor for its ratification and concurrence from 2.3 million civil servants and their families. This Convention is important to them. They 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.
4. The concurrence to the ratification of the Convention will be an important measure to support the fight against graft and corruption, as better terms and conditions of employment will motivate against graft and corrupt practices. New mechanisms against graft and corruption, suggested and supported by public employees' organizations, are also a likely result of dialogue and negotiation.
5. Being the first country in Asia to ratify the Convention will bolster the domestic and international status of the Philippines as a leader in promoting and protecting labor and civil rights.
Civil servants have waited for 39 years for the ratification of this Convention. The Senate's concurrence is a vote in upholding and promoting their labor rights. Let us concur with its ratification now.
Thank you very much, Mr. President.
Source: Senate of the Philippines