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					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.

				
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