PH among the top 10 worst countries for workers

Filipino workers out on a break at a construction site in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. | Photo courtesy of Business Mirror

THE Philippines is among the top 10 dangerous places for workers in 2020, according to the latest International Trade Union Confederation’s Global Rights Index.

In the 2020 index released Saturday, June 20, 144 countries were rated on a scale from one to five — with one being the best rating, and five the worst — based on the following:

• No guarantee of rights due to the breakdown of the rule of law (5+)
• No guarantee of rights (5)
• Systematic violation of rights (4)
• Regular violation of rights (3)
• Repeated violation of rights (2
• Irregular violation of rights (1)

According to ITUC, 85% of countries have violated the right to strike, 80% have violated the right to collective bargaining, 74% have excluded workers from the right to establish or join a trade union, and 72% have zero or restricted access to justice.

It also noted that the countries where freedom of speech and assembly was denied or constrained increased from 54 in 2019 to 56 in 2020.

“In the Philippines, union members were particularly at risk of violence, intimidation and murder,” noted the ITUC.

It added, “In a context of extreme state violence and suppression of civil liberties, employers’ tactics to label unions as ‘subversive organisations,’ in a process commonly known as ‘red-tagging,’ exposed their members to violence and repression.”

Along with the Philippines, Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Honduras, India, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Zimbabwe were recognized as the worst countries for working people in 2020.

The Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, for its part, said it stood by the list.

“The ALU-TUCP are fully in accord with the findings of the ITUC and stand by their listing of the Philippines as one of the top 10 most dangerous countries in the world for workers,” said the labor group.

“We see the handwriting clearly on the wall: workers rights and workers are and will be victims in the current political environment,” it added.

The group pointed out that the unresolved assassinations, allegedly labor-related disappearances, various repressions, red-tagging and wanton attacks on workers and workers’ fundamental rights made the current environment dangerous and difficult for workers.

ALU-TUCP also said that the conditions may get worse in the days ahead due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Using the COVID-19 and the growing great global depression as the justification to justify and peddle their wrong-headed prescriptions to keep private profits high and social spending low, is now making the country more dangerous and more difficult place for workers to live and to work and are promoting unproductive and very dangerous class warfare,” it said.

“We urge our national government to listen to us and to remember the lessons to history. We plead to our national leadership to step back from the brink of this totalitarian temptation and accept the path of building back better by upholding our individual civil and political liberties, respecting our collective economic rights, and by putting our workers’ interests first. This is the path to saving jobs and saving lives,” the group added.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at

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