As the Philippines gears up for the December launch of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Community (AEC) and the influx of foreign export opportunities expected to follow, the country’s government last week took proactive steps to safeguard its workers’ rights and potentially boost international business.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) signed an agreement on Apr. 24 with the Foreign Buyers Association of the Philippines (FOBAP) to ensure that local export producers enforce the labor and social compliance standards outlined in the Labor Laws Compliance System (LLCS), as well as meet the basic human rights standards required by major importing countries.
The pact describes how the partnership will promote minimum wage and other wage-related benefits, and occupational safety and health. This will ensure that local apparel and footwear manufacturers don’t miss out on any export opportunities offered through AEC—expected to transform ASEAN into a region with free movement of goods, services, labor and capital—or the country’s recent inclusion in the European Union’s Generalized System of Preference (GSP) Plus program.
Under the arrangement, DOLE and FOBAP will create a technical working committee to ensure exporters’ meet the requirements set forth in the LLCS. Socially-compliant factories will receive a certificate confirming acceptable labor standards, valid for two years unless there is a complaint.
During a press conference after the signing ceremony last week in Manila, FOBAP President Robert Young said, “DOLE and FOBAP share a common conviction that practices that protect the safety, health and well-being of the workers are essential in building long-term solutions to national concerns and global challenges.”