Why Philippines is one of world's worst places for workers

by Cathy Rose A. Garcia, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at May 28 2014 12:58 PM | Updated as of May 29 2014 04:47 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines is considered one of the worst countries to work in, according to a report by the International Trade Union Confederation.

The ITUC's Global Rights Index rates countries on a scale of 1 (best) to 5 (worst) depending on their compliance with collective labor rights. This is done by evaluating 97 indicators, such as workers' rights to establish or join unions, to collective bargaining and to strike.

The Philippines scored 5, which means there is "no guarantee of rights," along with 23 other countries.

"Countries with the rating of 5 are the worst countries in the world to work in. While the legislation may spell out certain rights workers have effectively no access to these rights and are therefore exposed to autocratic regimes and unfair labor practices," the report said.

Several Southeast Asian countries also scored 5, such as Bangladesh, China, Cambodia, India, Laos, Malaysia and South Korea.

Middle Eastern countries Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, where many Filipinos are working, also received a score of 5.

However, there were countries that had even worse conditions, getting a score of 5+. These are: Libya, Palestine, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine and Central African Republic. The rating of 5+ means there is no guarantee of workers' rights due to breakdown of the rule of law.

Among the countries that scored 4 were the United States, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Thailand. A score of 4 means workers in these countries have reported "systematic violation of rights."

Singapore and Taiwan both ranked 3, which means "regular violations of rights." Other countries that had a 3 rating were Canada, Australia, Ethiopia, Israel, Mozambique, Uganda, United Kingdom and Venezuela.

Japan had the best ranking among Asian countries with a score of 2, along with New Zealand, Jamaica, Hungary, Ireland, Spain and Switzerland. Having a 2 rating means these countries have a "slightly weaker collective labor rights than those with the rating 1."

There were 18 countries that scored the highest rating 1 are: Barbados, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Lithuania, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, South Africa, Sweden, Togo and Uruguay.

Having a 1 rating means collective labor rights are "generally guaranteed", and violations against workers do not occur on a regular basis.

"Countries such as Denmark and Uruguay led the way through their strong labor laws, but perhaps surprisingly, the likes of Greece, the United States and Hong Kong, lagged behind," said ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow.

"A country’s level of development proved to be a poor indicator of whether it respected basic rights to bargain collectively, strike for decent conditions, or simply join a union at all," she added.

The ITUC noted that workers in at least 53 countries have either been dismissed or suspended from their jobs "for attempting to negotiate better working conditions."

While many countries recognize the right to strike, ITUC noted that at least 87 countries exclude certain types of workers from this right. There are also 37 countries that impose fines or even jail time for workers who go on strikes.

"In countries such as Qatar or Saudi Arabia, the exclusion of migrant workers from collective labor rights means that effectively more than 90 per cent of the workforce is unable to have access to their rights leading to forced labor practices in both countries supported by archaic sponsorship laws.