WE are daring to criticize the revered and mighty World Bank again.
The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines-Nagkaisa (TUCP-Nagkaisa) has rebuked the World Bank (WB) during its shareholder consultation last Thursday “for excluding core labor standards in its project and policy loans intended for so-called development programs in the country amid the static unemployment and underemployment statistics.”
TUCP estimates that because of “the absence of these standards, around 23,000 workers are already being affected in two ongoing country projects.”
“The bank continues to ignore very important core labor safeguards and standards on wages, health and safe working conditions, terms of employment of workers employed in Bank- financed projects. The continued absence of these core labor standards means that the World Bank will not stand in the way of those denying Filipino workers their right to organize and unionize in infrastructure projects sponsored by the Bank. It means that the Bank will not stand in the way of those retrenching workers in Bank–financed privatizations of state enterprises. We insist that these benchmarks be integrated as soon as possible, otherwise the Bank will be a party to the race-to-the-bottom in terms of the already massive de facto casualization and contractualization of workers,” said Alan Tanjusay, TUCP-Nagkaisa spokesperson.
The bank had organized a round of consultation with various labor unions representatives, environmental advocates, sectoral leaders of peasants, indigenous peoples, women, fisherfolk and youth in the Astoria Plaza in Pasig City last Thursday in the course of its global review and update of its environmental and social policies.
Gerard Seno, executive director of the Associated Labor Unions-TUCP, said the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) have started asserting since 1997 for the incorporation of the core labor standards in the safeguard policies of the Bank.
Commendably the World Bank has taken a position against the use of child-labor and non-discrimination in the work force due to sex, religion and political beliefs but there are still huge and gaping holes in their current draft of the “Environmental and Social Standard: Labor and Working Conditions,” TUCP said.
The bank’s board is scheduled to consider a draft in 2015 that is supposed to be inputted with ideas gathered from the consultations.
“The draft labor standard prepared by the Bank does not have the standard requirement that has existed at the bank’s private sector lending arm the International Finance Corporation (IFC) since 2006 and those that have been adopted in recent years by many regional development banks,” Seno said.
TUCP-Nagkaisa Executive Director Luis Corral pointed out that there are more than 23,000 workers in the 119 electric cooperatives whose wages, working conditions and even security of tenure could be affected by World Bank grants and loans for these electric cooperatives.
Coral said, “We are concerned that the workers in these electric cooperatives are not being consulted through their existing unions. The fear of retrenchment or displacement is very real. We remind the Bank that because of the bank-sponsored privatization of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) thousands of workers were retrenched. The Bank must proceed with more responsibility and social consciousness.”
“The World Bank has to be reminded that it is the ordinary taxpayers’ money from all the member governments that finances these Bank projects. These are taxes paid by ordinary workers. We also remind the Bank that its aim is to eradicate poverty. It will not do so if even in its own projects, it will not stand for standards that will advance decent work,” Corral added.
We wholeheartedly endorse TUCP’s proposals to the World Bank.