The Employers Confederation Of The Philippines (ECOP) and German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) recently partnered thru a memorandum of agreement to raise the awareness level on Social Accountability in the Philippine Companies. Although ECOP is taking the lead, other stakeholders from the labor sector, government and civil society organizations will also play a major role in this endeavor. One of the first steps ECOP did was to commission a study that will identify and analyze, in a larger scale, the state of social compliance among Philippine enterprises. A professor from UP SOLAIR, Dr. Maragtas Amante, with assistance from ECOP Research and Advocacy Department, comprise the team which conducted the study…

source: Social Compliance Update
(An ECOP Publication with assistance from GTZ vol. 1 no. 1)
Below is the “nut shell” version of the policy paper mentioned in the above press release. To quote the objectives ” to raise the awareness level on Social Accountability in the Philippine Companies”.

The policy paper intends to identify and analyze, in a larger scale, the state of social compliance among Philippine enterprises. By reading this journal, the writer hopes to contribute to the objectives of both ECOP and GTZ, add value and raise not only the level of awareness but also of compliance initiated by Human Resource practitioners in Asia and the Philippines.

Sonnie
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Social accountability (SA) is a global standard for improving working conditions around the world. It provides definitions and parameters to ensure conformance to universal rights concerning labor standards, and an assurance of good practice to consumers, buyers, and other companies. It addresses workplace conditions, including child labor, forced labor, health and safety, freedom of association and collective bargaining, discrimination disciplinary practices, working hours, compensation and management systems.

Globalization emerged a set of international standards and norms which include social accountability are referred to as the “Global Eight” initiatives: (1) The UN Global Impact (2) ILO conventions (3) The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (4) ISO 14000 Series (5) Account Ability 1000 (6) The Global Reporting Initiative (7) The Global Sullivan Principles (8) Social Accountability 8000. The Global Eight initiatives have attained a high degree of recognition in the business community, corporate governance and social responsibility.

The Philippine Decent Work Action Program reports that the country has ratified 30 ILO Conventions on labor standards, of which 28 are enforced. The Philippines stands below the average ratification record of all ILO Member States. The ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work defined the following to constitute the core conventions on decent work:

Freedom of association
Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize Convention (No.87)
Right to organize and Collective Bargaining Convention (No. 98)
Abolition of forced labor
Forced Labor Convention (No. 29)
Abolition of Forced Labor Convention (No. 105)
Equality
Discrimination (No. 111)
Equal Remuneration Convention (No. 100)
Elimination of child labor
Minimum Age Convention (No. 138)
Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention (No. 182)

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) were established in 1976, covering competition, financing, taxation and employment, as well as industrial relations and environment, science and technology. The OECD Guidelines seek to promote development by fostering local capacity, enhancing through training and other forms of human capital expansion.

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The Philippine Department of Trade and Industry reports that the top 12 Philippine exports in 2004 are the following: (1) Electronic products: semi conductors, EDP, telecommunication, etc. (2) Apparel and clothing accessories (3) Processed petroleum products (4) Wiring sets used in ignition for vehicles, aircrafts and ships (5) Coconut oil (6) Refined copper cathodes (7) Woodcrafts and furniture (8) Fresh bananas (9) Metal components (10) Pineapple products (11) Processed tropical fruits (12) Desiccated coconut. The OECD guidelines assume relevance in the application of social accountability in trade involving these commodities.

The Philippines has a labor surplus economy, with a population of 81 million, and a workforce of 33.6 million (NSO 2003). Out of the labor force of 30 million, there are about 5 million wage and salaries workers, who are covered by formal employment relations. Statistics show that the formal sector is decreasing, while the informal sector is increasing. The formal sector contributes greater value to the economy. Workers in the informal sector lack protection, rights and representation. It is a major challenge for Philippine unions, to organize and provide representation for workers in the informal sector.

Statistics report on labor standards in 2002, indicate that 9.2% of enterprises have no safety committees; 7.9% did not submit accident reports; 6% did not submit medical reports and there were 3.6% of enterprises reported to have not paid the required Social Security premium for their employees. In Metro Manila, 29.1% of establishments do not pay the correct amount of minimum wages; 18.9% did not provide for 13th month pay; 25% did not pay emergency cot of living allowance (ECOLA); 8.6% establishments inspected did not pay social security and 10% have no safety committee.

Records of the DOLE Bureau of Labor Relations indicate that unionize workers represent 5% of the employed workforce of 31.6 million and 9% of 16.7 million workers who are paid wages and salaries.

Capacity to enforce compliance is difficult for DOLE to discharge its law enforcement responsibility satisfactorily. There is a need to strengthen the capacity of the labor inspectorate, including occupational safety and health inspectors, through appropriate advisory and training support services. A candid examination of the reasons for the non-ratification of the two priority Conventions (No. 81 and No. 129) could help better identify the gaps in that respect.
The Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) safeguards the interests of business in all areas related to labor-management relations. It serves as the employers’ voice concerning employment, industrial relations, labor and social policies. The ECOP is the umbrella organization for 451 chambers of commerce, industry and social relations and it has 513 corporate members. Their key role is to represent the employer in the tripartite Industrial Peace Council which involves discussion on contracting, implementation of Book V of the Labor Code, security guards, labor enforcement framework, the worst forms of child labor, drug free workplace, and the like.

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The ECOP recognizes the potential of corporate social responsibility for improving competitiveness of the enterprises. It will continue to promote socially responsible corporate behavior to achieve decent work and raise awareness of initiatives based on international labor standards. It will also continue to promote firm-level approach and apply fundamental principles and rights at work. ECOP aims to promote the Family Welfare Program, family responsibilities and concerns are addressed through the provision of family planning and related services especially to women employees.

Workers and civil society organizations in the Philippines are actively involved in he promotion of decent work, full employment, global competitiveness of workers, social protection and welfare, freedom of association, bargaining, child labor, non discrimination on employment and other labor standards. Trade unions and allied workers are involved in the advocacy for decent work, legislative and social action, mutual aid, media campaigns and collective bargaining negotiations.

The Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) is an enterprise-initiated efforts to advocate for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), including Social Accountability. PBSP’s focus is on social investment, corporate-community partnership, environmental stewardship and managing workplace concerns.

The National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) is an instrumentality of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is actively promote social accountability and defends workers rights.

The National Council of Churches of the Philippines (NCCP), composed of various Protestants and Evangelical churches puts priority upon development education and ecumenical orientation for human liberation, advocates issues on justice, peace and the integrity of creation. It has services and programs for relief and rehabilitation, aid to migrant and maritime workers, internal refugees and victims of human rights.

PERCEPTIONS OF SOCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY

In the profile of survey respondents there were n=9 respondents to the survey, of which n=7 were ECOP members and n=81 outside ECOP. The average age is 37.8 years, with males older than the female respondents; 38.8% were managers; 62% from a large firms; 70% female; 18% chief executives. 49% of the respondents were from the services sector; 34% from manufacturing; 10% from Philippine government agencies; 50% were local Filipino; 15% Filipino Chinese; 7.1% from US; 8.2% Japanese firms and 5% European firms.

The awareness about elements of social accountability shows that on a scale of 0=zero knowledge and 5=greatly knowledgeable, respondents indicated a high level of awareness about working hours, safety and health and disciplinary measures. It also shows that respondents have the lowest level of awareness concerning management systems, freedom of association, the right to form unions and child labor.

In the Philippine Labor Code, the minimum age of employment is 18 years old. In this regard, 30% were correct; 14.4% define child labor as those 16 years old and below; 25.8% as those 15 years old and below. This result indicates that there is a need to have wider information campaign regarding the nature, coverage and remedial measures for child labor.

On forced labor, 70% of the respondents provided a correct sense of what it means while 18% were close. There were 12% who did not provide a definition close to the sense of what forced labor constitutes.

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On discrimination in hiring and promotions, there were more than 70% agreed that there is discrimination based on gender and union membership. There were 60% agreed based on disability, religion, race, age, sexual orientation and school; 50% think that hiring and promotion is based on political and national origin.

The respondents think that social accountability in the Philippines is mainly a domestic or local issue. 29.6% think that customers in the export market would care whether the goods and services are produced under conditions which comply with social accountability. Likewise, respondents said that social accountability begins at home.

50% of the business would be very much affected if people care about SA; 10% affected; 29% perhaps and 11% not at all.

38% agree and 18% highly agreed with the statement that social accountability is an imposition of advanced market countries mainly in the West to protect their jobs and their economy.

On a scale of 0=zero cost to 4=very high cost, respondents thought that the most costly items would be: safety and health, management systems, adjustment in wages and compensation, recognizing unions and adjustments in working hours. The least costly items relate to efforts against recruitment of child labor, forced labor and disciplinary measures.

The analysis on the understanding of decent work, 91% of the respondents have heard about it; 11% have a clear understanding while 65% have an incomplete sense of what it means. Most respondents emphasized the moral dimension of decent work.

The most priority concern for social accountability as per respondents is the health and safety. The next item are the discrimination in employment, freedom of association, environment, management systems and work hours. Respondents did not give much importance to social security, education and training and child labor.

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

There is an awareness about social accountability in the Philippines. The challenge of moving forward in promoting national and global labor standards has to promote such awareness to a higher level and strengthen capability of employers, government, workers and civil society.

The potential forces which could mobilized the voices of traditional tripartite institutions are the churches, the local government and the academic institutions. Likewise, police and military should promote and protect national and global labor standards as a matter of national security.

The Philippines is relatively ahead with respect to the development of tripartite and social institutions, as well as a tested framework of social accountability and labor standards. These elements could be an advantage in the global production and trading of goods and services.
In the Philippines it is important to internalize the labor standards debate, internalizing commitment to a process of improving standards , but not externally imposed standard.

Social accountability requires a broad social consensus of acceptance. Society need to build trust and confidence with each other, in order for higher social and living standards to develop and spread.

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