The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) concluded its implementation of a project on “Strengthening Bipartite Relations at the National and Enterprise Levels” in partnership with its counterpart organization in Denmark, the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI). The project, which started in 2018, sought to institutionalize a functioning bipartite mechanism for joint policy positions at the national level and further enhance labor-management relations among unionized companies. A Leaders Forum (LF), consisting of the heads of the country’s largest labor federations and business organizations, was established for this purpose.
The trade union movement is represented in the LF by the Federation of Free Workers (FFW), Sentro ngmga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa(SENTRO), and the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) with which ECOP has long-standing relationship through the existing tripartite mechanisms. Through the project, this relationship was leveraged to discuss and agree on policy recommendations without government intervention and to ensure that national policies consider the needs of both workers and employers.
In addition to ECOP, the other business organizations in the LF are the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and the Philippine Exporters Confederation (PHILEXPORT).
Providing a voice to our workers has helped in giving them confidence and reassurance that they can return to work safely and their welfare is prioritized by their employers. In turn, businesses are rewarded with a productive workforce despite the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although there have been limitations in conducting regular formal meetings due to the uncertainty of the pandemic, dialogue was sustained via online meetings. The unpredictability of the policy and business environment underscored the need for a collective voice of employers and workers which emphasized the role of the LF.
At the enterprise level, three (3) pilot enterprises— FEU-Nicanor Reyes Medical Foundation, De La Salle – Medical and Health Sciences Institute, and Valley Golf and Country Club —were exposed to various workshops conducted by DI on social dialogue. They have been given the opportunity to conduct activities based on their needs through an action plan they themselves crafted. Indeed, no workplace is perfect in terms of industrial peace and harmony, but the project was indeed a catalyst in building a stronger relationship between management and union.
For 2022, a second Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA2) on the UN Sustainable Goals (SDGs) and Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) between ECOP and DI is now being finalized. The thematic areas to be covered by SPA2 include green and just transition, business resiliency and sustainability, occupational safety and health (OSH), and diversity and inclusion (D&I).
We have been proactively promoting compliance through corporate social responsibility. ECOP views CSR not purely from a marketing, philanthropic or charity-driven perspective but as a platform to promote responsible business conduct (RBC). It means maximizing businesses’ positive impact and minimizing the negative effects of their operations. The implication is that responsible business ensures respect of workers’ rights, engages in constructive dialogue with their employees, and establishes a process to address workers’ grievances. A responsible business also uses its leverage to ensure that its policies and practices on compliance are cascaded down to its supply chain and partners.
In this new partnership, ECOP will take concrete steps to demonstrate that implementing RBC can help companies operationalize the SDGs which, in, turn, will provide opportunities for business to contribute to global sustainable development, and at the same time, drive growth, attract capital, address risks, and empower the workforce.
A baseline study, surveys, introductory webinars on SDGs/RBC and the aforementioned thematic areas will be conducted in preparation for the implementation of the new agreement. ECOP looks forward to the participation of companies, including micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), in these activities.