November 30 was a Global Day of Action on the Philippines. The global trade union movement showed its solidarity with trade unionists and other activists who struggle for human rights and democracy in a country where both are in danger since the election of President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016.
Despite severe COVID-19 restrictions, trade unions organised protests in the Philippines. Global Union supporters intervened with embassies and consulates of the Philippines.
Communications urge the Government to act on four priorities:
- Stop its red-tagging activities against trade unions and other legitimate organisations and hold accountable those responsible for them, especially those involved in extrajudicial killings;
- Scrap the Anti-terrorism Act and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR);
- Ensure the health security and safety at work of all workers; and
- Protect the jobs and income of the Filipino workers and embark on massive public employment programmes.
The Day of Action was held a week after a webinar by the Council of Global Unions that provided an opportunity for Filipino trade unionists to expose the oppression, harassment, intimidation death threats, and violence that afflict them.
The Council of Global Unions adopted a statement on the urgent crisis of democracy in the Philippines, saying that the, “action day shines a light on advancing despotism and calls on the Government of the Philippines to honour its international human rights commitments.” It urges the Government of the Philippines to “end its violations of human rights and re-join the family of democratic nations.”
The statement calls on other governments to refuse to condone these crimes and to review and re-consider trade and economic advantages like the Generalised System of Preferences that exist in the European Union, the United States, and elsewhere. It reminds governments that, “the repeated decisions of the International Labour Organisation and the UN Council on Human Rights have been ignored or have yielded, at best, empty promises.”
The Council of Global Unions statement concludes:
“Democracy is in critical condition in the Philippines, but not yet dead. That is because so many brave Filipinos are fighting for it. The people of the Philippines require and deserve global support and they need it urgently. This is a moment for governments supporting universal human rights to step forward and show that their commitments are not just words.”