It is a sad state of affairs that there are only a handful of workers who are union members and even less are covered by collective bargaining agreements – and a lot of them do not even know that they are union members or actually covered by CBAs! As if these were not enough, the onslaught of outsourcing, contractualization, casualization and other forms of precarious employment have further reduced the number of employees covered by collective bargaining units.
Employees working side-by-side union members and doing the same tasks are treated by the employers as contractual, casual, agency workers, etc. – effectively, albeit illegally, cutting them off from the bargaining unit.
This is largely due to the fact that while the Constitution provides that the State shall afford full protection to labor and shall guarantee the rights of all workers to self-organization, collective bargaining and to conduct concerted actions, these rights are rendered meaningless due to the legalistic character of union organizing.
Today however, we have a chance to alter some portions of the labor code that would strengthen workers’ fundamental right to self-organize. Let us support the passage of SN2466 or the Act to Strengthen Workers’ Constitutional Right to Self-Organization which is now pending in the Senate. Together with other moves to amend the Labor Code in order to remove other restrictions on workers’ trade union rights, this bill would certainly go a long way in reversing the decline in the country’s trade unionism.
Senate Bill 2466
SN2466 or the Act to Strengthen Workers’ Constitutional Right to Self-Organization, sponsored by Senators Kiko Pangilinan, Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada and Richard Gordon, is now pending in the Senate.
SN2466 is the counterpart bill of HB 1351, sponsored by Representatives Del De Guzman (Marikina) and Mario Aguja (Akbayan), that was passed by Lower House November last year.
The bill intends to:
-Ease up the process of organizing unions;
-Simplify the process of becoming the sole and exclusive bargaining agent by allowing federations and national unions to organize local chapters simply by issuing charter certificates and at the same time be allowed to file the petition on behalf of the local charter;
-Protect workers from retaliation for organizing unions
-Ensuring that petitions for certification election should never be suspended or enjoined;
-Protect unions by removing provisions on that allow union registrations to be cancelled for alleged misrepresentations, false statements, etc., and instead penalize erring union officials for their negligence;
-Given that while rank-and-file and supervisory employees should not be allowed to join the same union, their respective unions should be allowed to belong to the same federation or national union.