Exclusive Breastfeeding in the Workplace: Giving Life and Upholding Dignity of Workers

Multi-sectoral groups inked a pact on Promoting Exclusive Breastfeeding in the Workplace, led by Alliance of Progressive Labor, Informal Workers under the group ALLWIES, Employers Confederation of the Philippines, the Metro Naga Chamber of Commerce and Industry, government agencies led by the DOLE, and the National Nutrition Council NNC Region 5 under the DOH, and the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) with the support of the International Labor Organization. The event was held at the Villa Caceres Hotel, in Naga City on 28 November 2011, as part of the MDGF 2030 Joint Programme that aims to address food security and malnutrition for children 0-24 months Old in the Philippines.

The current situation on malnutrition in Naga City of 4%, as well as the minimum wage of workers pegged Php247.00 per day, is more than a compelling reason to promote exclusive breastfeeding in the workplace. That is why, various stakeholders, coming from private sectors, government agencies and CSOs signed and sealed their commitment to promote exclusive breastfeeding in the workplace, through the Memorandum of Agreement between and among companies, workers and government agencies. Among the many trailblazing and historic event that took place in Naga City, this MOA signing can be considered as one of the landmark achievement of different sectors on the promotion of breastfeeding in the workplace. It is common knowledge that Naga City has been one of the pioneering models in good governance, having received a number of awards not only on governance but more importantly for health and nutrition.

What else is new in forging partnerships with companies, workers union and the informal sector? Can we really reach out to workplaces here in the city to set up their own lactation stations?

What goal do we want to achieve when we say we are promoting exclusive breastfeeding in the workplace? Ms. Arlene Reario, RTWG Chair for MDGF 2030 in Region 5 said that “Beyond the numbers and statistics, I think there is only one message towards this end: “Promoting exclusive breastfeeding in the workplace, is the key towards giving life and upholding dignity of the women workers.”

Beyond the compliance with RA 10028, employers are encouraged to promote exclusive breastfeeding in the workplace since doing so, will greatly contribute to worker’s productivity since, workers need not incur additional expense that are often borrowed from companies particularly the expenses on bottle feeding or the use of breastmilk substitute. According to Sion Binos, a member of the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), this is one advocacy issue, “that should be able to encourage cooperation between and among management and workers since it would benefit both of them”.

This is just a start of a deeper and more meaningful cooperation, between and among the different stakeholders are expected also to capacitate themselves not only in setting up lactation station but more importantly in expanding the promotion of exclusive breastfeeding in the workplace.

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