Philippines among ten worst countries for workers’ rights

·Contributor
·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: Former illegal gunsmiths work at the gun assembly line of Shooters Arms, a gun manufacturing company in Cebu City exporting different kinds of weapons to other countries, July 7, 2012. (Source: REUTERS/Erik De Castro)
FILE PHOTO: Former illegal gunsmiths work at the gun assembly line of Shooters Arms, a gun manufacturing company in Cebu City exporting different kinds of weapons to other countries, July 7, 2012. (Source: REUTERS/Erik De Castro)

An international labor group has once again named the Philippines as one of the world's ten worst countries for workers.

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) revealed in their 2021 Global Rights Index that state and corporate abuse of workers rights – such as the right to strike, organize a union, and free speech – were at an all-time high since the organization began recording the abuses eight years ago.

(Source: ITUC/ituc-csi.org)
(Source: ITUC/ituc-csi.org)

“Workers are under attack like never before,” Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the ITUC, said in a statement after the release of the 2021 Global Rights Index.

Burrow pointed out how the pandemic has exacerbated the condition of workers. The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated jobs, communities and lives. The Global Rights Index exposes a shameful roll call of governments and companies that have pursued an anti-union agenda in the face of workers who have stood on the front line providing essential work to keep economies and communities functioning,” she added.

“Governments and employers exploited the pandemic to exploit the people the world depends on by increasing surveillance, breaking agreements, laying off workers, blocking and intimidating unions and resorting to violence and murder,” Burrow said.

Violations of Workers' Rights (Source: ITUC/ituc-csi.org)
Violations of Workers' Rights (Source: ITUC/ituc-csi.org)

The ITUC named Bangladesh, Belarus, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Honduras, Myanmar, the Philippines, Turkey, and Zimbabwe as the top ten worst countries for workers in 2021. Along with Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Myanmar, and Nigeria, the Philippines was one of six countries where trade unionists were murdered. ITUC highlighted that workers had little to no access to justice in 65% of countries, with severe cases reported in the Philippines, Belarus, Honduras, and Zimbabwe.

Ten worst countries in the world for working people. (Source: 2021 Global Rights Index/ituc-csi.org)
Ten worst countries in the world for working people. (Source: 2021 Global Rights Index/ituc-csi.org)

According to the international labor group, workers and their leaders in the Philippines were particularly exposed to violent attacks, intimidation, and arbitrary arrests. Trade unionists remain under direct threat from the police and the army, who conducted targeted raids on them after President Duterte maliciously red-tagged them, even sanctioning extrajudicial killings in his speeches.

The eighth edition of ITUC’s Index which ranked 149 countries based on the degree of respect for workers’ rights, documented how governments and employers have used the pandemic to fire workers who revealed crucial information about the virus's spread in the workplace; violated collective bargaining rights; increased surveillance of workers and undermined their right to privacy; and limited free speech and assembly.

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Ana Catalina Paje is a development journalist passionate about grassroots communication geared towards genuine social change. She also writes about showbiz, lifestyle, and all things Pinoy pride. The views expressed are her own.

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