Senate approves ILO treaty on government workers' protection

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate on Monday, August 14, concurred in the ratification of an international treaty on the protection of government workers’ rights to organize and negotiate conditions of employment.

Voting 22-0, senators adopted International Labor Organization Convention 151, which also guarantees government employees’ right against anti-union discriminatory acts, right to collective bargaining, and right to be heard through dispute settlement.

Senator Loren Legarda, chair of the foreign relations committee, welcomed the chamber’s move, saying the Philippines is the first Asian country to ratify the Convention, also known as “Convention Concerning Protection of the Right to Organize and Procedures for Determining Conditions of Employment in the Public Service.”

“I thank my colleagues for unanimously concurring in the ratification of this very important treaty. The Philippines is now the first Asian country to ratify the Convention. It also bolsters the domestic and international status of the country as a leader in promoting and protecting labor and civil rights,” Legarda said.

Legarda said 2.3 million Filipino public servants would reap the benefits of the international agreement, which covers all persons employed by the national government and its attached agencies, bureaus, local government units, and government-owned and controlled corporations.

Senate labor committee chair Joel Villanueva also welcomed the move. He said government employees, unlike their private counterparts, hardly had any rights to collective bargaining and negotiation before this.

Citing government data, Villanueva said there are 1,944 registered unions in the public sector, but only 992 or less than half have achieved accreditation status, while only 813 have collective negotiation agreements with their employers.

“A vibrant collective bargaining in the public sector encourages workers to design their standards and codes of conduct,” Villanueva said.

Under the resolution, the Convention “shall take effect 12 months after the date on which its ratification has been registered with the Director-General of the ILO.”

ILO Convention 151 was first adopted on June 27, 1978, in Geneva, Switzerland, and was implemented on February 25, 1981.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ratified the Convention on May 26, 2017. –

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a multimedia reporter focusing on media, technology, and disinformation.