The Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) is appealing to the Senators for the removal of the phrase “in accordance with the law to be passed by the Bangsamoro parliament” in the BBL, referring to the fundamental rights of the workers.
The offending phrase is in section 10 on labor rights under Senate Bill 1717, the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law currently under deliberation in the Senate.
“While we support the enactment of the proposed legislation, we are disturbed at the notion that a universal and fundamental right such as workers’ rights would be subject to the whims of a regional government,” Josua Mata, Secretary General of SENTRO said in a statement.
The placement of the phrase is also critical as it was formulated to include key phrases such as the right to self-organization, collective bargaining agreement, and the right to strike, the labor leader said. The formulation is such that these rights would be contingent on the interests of the future parliament, which may not necessarily be in favor of the working people.
According to Mata, if global experience is an indicator, a decentralized judiciary and policy making on labor standards do not inspire confidence, consistency of implementation, or hope of protection.
Experiences in India and Pakistan show that the imposition of national laws regarding labor rights hardly happen in their autonomous regions because the local elites would usually invoke “regional autonomy,” Mata said. In the United States of America, most well-known country with decentralized governments, 28 states have imposed Right to Work legislation that prohibits union security clauses in collective bargaining, thereby weakening the labor movement.
There is no reason why the same thing could not happen in the Philippines. The weakening of the central government’s capacity to regulate erring local elites amidst entrenched political dynasties, the impunity of local political magnates is pretty much guaranteed. The local labor movement will be left without any recourse or support from any other level of government, considering the very possible invocation “domestic concerns” as a ready excuse.
Indeed, we see a grim horizon for the labor movement should the offensive phrase in the BBL is retained.
Mata also noted that the proponents of indigenous people’s rights succeeded in convincing lawmakers to put stronger provisions protective of their rights by specifically invoking the IPRA Law. “If they can ensure incorporation of IPRA, then why can’t they do the same with labor,” he added.