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“Collective bargaining is one instrument to address specific challenges of technology and the evolving world of work as parties negotiate to cover different aspects of digitization and flexibilization, among others. However, the low trade union density and collective bargaining rate in the country translated to lagging worker coverage.”

This was the challenge posed by Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Undersecretary Jacinto V. Paras during the Visayas-wide consultation on “Strengthening Multi-employer Bargaining Towards a More Inclusive Form of CBA Coverage” held at Harolds Hotel, Cebu City on 15 January 2019. The activity is the first leg of a series of consultations organized by the Institute for Labor Studies (ILS) with the Bureau of Labor Relations (BLR), and funded by the International Labour Organization (ILO). The consultations are part of the ILS’ research project that aims to propose a more centralized form of collective bargaining by developing a framework to strengthen the existing policy of multi-employer bargaining in the country. The study, presented during the 7th DOLE Research Conference in November 2018, established that while there is an attempt to implement multi-employer bargaining, there is no successful practice in the Philippines.

“The concept of multi-employer bargaining is not new. It is another form of negotiation where a group of labor unions choose to bargain collectively with a group of employers, that would entail a wider employee coverage.” he said.

Creating an enabling environment for multi-employer bargaining facilitates a more inclusive and expansive approach in increasing the coverage to ensure workers’ rights and improve conditions of employment of all workers. Hence, the involvement of stakeholders is a necessary step to strengthen the recommendations of the research.

“While the Department believes that policy researches are key in formulating responsive policies, we deem that these must be complemented with constructive dialogue and consultative undertakings as perspectives from stakeholders can enrich policy discussion.” he said.

The participants are incumbent members of the regional Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (TIPC) and DOLE representatives from regions V, VI, VII, and VIII. Also present were Ms. Diane Respall of the International Labour Organization (ILO), DOLE RO7 OIC-Assistant Regional Director Roy Buenafe, ILS Executive Director Ahmma Charisma Lobrin-Satumba, and ILS Acting Deputy Executive Director Patrick P. Patriwirawan, Jr.

The Mindanao leg of the consultation was held in Seda hotel in Davao City last 25 January. Assistant Regional Director Jason P. Balais welcomed the participants, which included RO IX Regional Director Ofelia B. Domingo.  The last leg of the consultation will be held in Manila on 04 February 2019.

The Institute for Labor Studies (ILS) is the policy research and advocacy arm of the Department of Labor and Employment. For more information on this story, please contact the Advocacy and Publications Division at 527-3590.