ECOP explores possibilities to develop social dialogue at sector level

ECOP explores possibilities to develop social dialogue at sector level

Andrew Moore Country manager View profile

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic across the business community throughout the world has been considerable. The Philippines has been no exception which has meant that employers across the country will need to address a number of important issues if they are to recover from the current crises and also to be in a position to face the future with confidence. An important aspect of recovery will be the relationship between employers and their employees. ECOP, the Employers Confederation of the Philippines, has shown at a national level through social dialogue that mutual understanding and respect have been a crucial aspect of its work with the trade unions. In order to provide support to the business community in the Philippines the DECP has been working closely with ECOP in order to explore how sectoral organisations can best prepare their members for the future challenges.

In the DECP workplan for 2021 one of the key objectives was to develop sectoral social dialogue and therefore the DECP was very interested in supporting ECOP in exploring how it could work with its members in achieving a good balance between the interests of employers and employees as a precondition for stability and calmness within the Philippine labour market.

In practical terms it was agreed that ECOP would conduct a survey of its sectoral organisations to establish how they are dealing with social dialogue within their own organisations. The survey identified certain sectors that might benefit from such a process including semi-conductor and electronics, IT, Business Process Associations and the Hotel and Restaurant Associations.

As part of the project ECOP organised online meetings with these sectors which highlighted a number of challenges. A number of employees had moved away from certain sectors leaving a major skills shortage which has meant that the sectors consulted felt the urgent need to recruit and also to provide enhanced skills development. It was noted that some sectors had benefited from the demands made under COVID such as IT whereas others sectors such as hospitality had taken a significant hit both on its income as well as its staffing.

The question of trade union involvement was then raised as part of possible dialogue at a sectoral level when planning for the future. A number of sectors stated that they had so far limited involvement with the unions but realised the dialogue with its employees was of paramount importance. The sectors have realised that if future industrial relations should get worse, or if the government would impose measurements which turn out to be negative for both employers and employees, it would make both parties stronger if they do have good relations and open communication. 

The business community felt that government efforts to support business was poor during the pandemic and therefore it would be beneficial for all if social dialogue could be developed collectively in the sector than to leave it just to individual companies. In addition, it could be beneficial for both employers and employees from an economic point of view if representatives of both parties meet regularly. After all, strengthening the business climate together leads to growth of companies and thus to more employment.

Experts from DECP are ready to facilitate such processes.