Torres with NTUC Phl officers (clockwise) Deputy General Secretary Cedric Bagtas, Treasurer Milagros Ogalinda and President Rodolfo Capoquian. PHOTO BY JOHN ORVEN VERDOTE

There are many benefits that are not available for the contractual employees and they can be easily removed.

In the international scene, NTUCP is part of ATUC. Ang advocacy naman namin diyan is mostly protection of migrant workers. Because in the Asean, as you would note, there are four labor migrant workers’ destination countries and all the rest are migrant workers sending countries.

In the Asean, the destination are Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, also Brunei. While all the rest are labor-sending countries, including the Philippines. Which is why they should be given equal treatment in the country of destination. Equal meaning equal to the nationals.

For example, if the local receive a certain amount of wage, migrant workers should also be given that, if they have social benefits or accident insurance, they should also have one. We also extend the protection of helping migrant workers to be protected in the Asean and in the Middle East where we have so many workers.

We are gaining ground on that. Both ATUC and NTUC are very active in promoting workers’ interest.

What are NTUC Phl’s future plans?

Torres: Under the Presidency of Rolly [Rodolfo Capoquian,] our future plans include strengthening our group, increasing of membership and also campaigning against gender inequality. Last meeting we discussed with the LGBTQ members and learned how they are being discriminated. They have problems that are not covered by law so we are trying to help them. Their concern is also our concern, we are not just confined in women’s and youth’s concern.

Moreover, our plan is to be recognized as the leading labor center in the Philippines because we have the numbers already, 21 labor federations already and we are contentiously working to increase that.

Of course, we still have problems in the center — adequate finances, for example. But our member federations are contributing to the operations of NTUC so we can sustain.

What is you vision for the workers and hope for the government when it comes to labor rights?

Torres: To strengthen collective bargaining, to abolish contractual employment or short term employment, and to push for higher wage and better protection on safety and health of workers.

The organization of workers should be really given support by the government because in the labor code, it is provided that the state, represented by the Department of Labor, should assist workers and labor organizing, the department should not to be a hindrance.

We really want to have a strong workforce or at least we can increase the number of people with sufficient income. This will enable them to educate children and live life better.

Regional members of NTUC Phl’s as of February 2020

1. Alliance of Independent Unions in Hotel and Restaurant Casino (AIUHRC)

2. Alyansa ng mga Manggagawa at Pilipinong Organisado (AMAPO)

3. BPO Workers Association of the Philippines (BWAP)

4. Federation of Free Farmers (FFF)

5. Health Employees and Advocates of Labor in the Philippines (HEAL Phil)

6. Kilusan ng Manggagawang Makabayan (KMM)

7. National Congress Unions in the Sugar Industry of the Philippines (NACUSIP)

8. National Labor Unions (NLU)

9. National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE)

10. Obreri Pilipino

11. Philippine Agricultural Commercial and Industrial Workers Union (PACIWU)

12. Philippine Land Transport Union (PLTIU)

13. Philippine National Union Council (PNUC)

14. Philippine Federation of Labor (PFL)

15. Philippine Sector Labor Integrative Center (PS LINK)

16. Samahan ng Manggagawang Pilipino-National Alliance of Teachers and Office Workers (SMP-NATOW)

17. Teachers Organization of the Philippine Public Sector (TOPPS)

18. Trade Unions of the Philippines and Allied Services