Eva B. Arcos Decent Work Agenda of the ILO and the Informal Economy The Role of Trade unions and Informal Economy Associations Summary/Highlights of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) Experience Johannesburg, South Africa 10-14 December 2007 Brief Background The informal sector is composed of home-based workers, vendors, craftsmen and craftswomen, micro entrepreneurs, small transport operators, drivers, and other unskilled or low skilled laborers. Many rely on a single micro-company or middleperson for their survival. Others are almost invisible, making them even harder to find, talk to and organize. The vast majority of them do not enjoy a traditional employee-employer relationship. The sector is estimated to account for 52 percent of the Philippines’ 30-million workforce. Not surprisingly, its economic activities constitute some 25 to 30 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. On the average, 57 percent of those in the informal sector are in the agriculture sector, 33 percent in the services sector and 6 percent in the industry sector. Women dominate the informal sector. Initiatives The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines has been… 1 Effectively using existing tripartite or multi-sectoral structures or mechanisms to address informal economy issues and concerns. For example: extension of coverage from private sector employees only to self-employed and volunteer contributors under the Social Security System; setting minimum wages for agricultural and non- agricultural workers under the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards; policy and program formulation and monitoring of women specific and related concerns under the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women; affordable decent housing at low interest rates under the Pag-ibig Home Development Mutual Fund, among many others. 2 Collaborating with other trade unions and affiliates … …setting up of a Workers’ Development Fund …assisting the development of savings-based community organizations …developing cooperatives that provide savings and loan services, credit extension services on prime commodities and service and job opportunities. …improving access to low-interest and non-collateral loans and protecting them from usurious lending schemes …advocating for personal tax exemptions for minimum wage earners; removal of sales tax for prime commodities and services; reduction of excessive business transaction costs 3 Collaborating with various government agencies, for example, with Department of Science and Technology, Department of Trade and Industry, Technological Education and Skills Development Authority and certain universities or institutions to improve access to technology, training and entrepreneurship for productivity, increased income opportunities and better living. TUCP has also been in partnership with the Department of Health and the Department of Labor for access to safety and health services and education, including reproductive and HIV/AIDs programs. 4 Initiated and sustained the formation of a coalition of trade unions, informal economy associations and people’s organizations that became the Informal Sector of the Philippines (ISP) to participate in formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies, laws, rules and regulations, programs affecting workers. The work includes advocacy to ratify relevant ILO Conventions. The ISP became part of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) where there is a Council for Workers in the Informal Sector, to participate in the development of sectoral and national policies affecting the informal economy workers. There are also trade union, migrant, women and youth representatives in NAPC. TUCP and partner organizations also expect the full operationalization of the created sub-committees for the Informal Economy in national, regional and local development bodies. 5. Engaged in various advocacy and capacity-building activities, and social partnerships which have resulted to: a. The creation of Barangay (the country’s smallest political unit) Council for the Protection of Children in some areas b. The creation of Women and Children’s desks or centers in selected communities c. The implementation of the law appropriating at least five (5)% of the government agency or unit budget to finance women’s programs (called Gender and Development Fund) d. An agreement with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority mandating locators not to engage contractors, subcontractors and suppliers who employ children; and to create Committees on Decorum and Investigation to address violence against women e. The restructuring of the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Rural Workers into Bureau of Rural and Informal Economy Workers and mainstreaming Informal Economy in its programs. 6. Conducting research , advocacy activities, forging social partnerships that have put the concerns for the Informal Economy in the country’s legislative agenda: Magna Carta for Workers in the Informal Economy 7. Practicing international solidarity and cooperation for workers’ issues and concerns across geographical boundaries. 8. Operating the TUCP Workers’ College for skills training in identified critical industries or occupations and job networking for the young, retrenched or the un/underemployed. 9 Breeding a culture of decent work, dignity, credit discipline, productivity, entrepreneurship, economic independence, sensitivity and non-violence. 10 Empowering workers especially the women in both Formal and Informal Economies in being able to define themselves, mobilize resources, create opportunities, make informed decisions, and being active participants in the charting of their work life, relationships and development. Key Challenges 1. Purposive expansion of trade union affiliations from organized agricultural or rural workers to include informal economy (IE) associations across industries and occupations. 2. Actual integration or mainstreaming of IE workers in union structures, policies, programs and representations. 3. Sustaining initiatives at all levels of organization, organizing and servicing given limited trade union resources 4. Obtaining decent work and quality life for workers and their families, both in the formal and informal economies 5. Building another generation of committed, critical and able leaders in trade unions and informal economy associations 6. Building independent, capable, responsible and strong unions and Informal Economy Associations 7. Effectively respond to the demands of globalization, the changing socio-economic- political structures in order to continue the struggle for decent work and decent life for all workers.
Pages to are hidden for
"Initiatives"Please download to view full document