|Posted by Jorge Sibal on June 4, 2009 at 12:47 AM|
Are Trade Unions still Relevant?: The Philippine labor movement in crisis
Alicor L. Panao
If globalization were an evolutionary period in the Philippines, then trade unions might very well be aged dinosaurs on the brink of extinction. It used to be that smokestack industries could do little without the support of labor unions. But the development of the global job market, the changing forms of labor relations, new technology and patterns of work, as well as the appearance of millions of new workers willing to work at whatever cost, have made organizing an uphill struggle for these former vanguards of workers’ rights. To make matters worse, ferocious infighting, pitiable wages for ordinary workers, declining benefits, and the rising number of informal workers cast serious doubts on the union’s ability to represent the interests of workers. Are unions, then, suffering from a crisis of relevance? And if so, are they bound to become a thing of the past?
“As long as there is a need to uphold social justice and equality, trade unions will be relevant,” says Prof. Jorge Sibal, dean of the UP School of Labor and Industrial Relations (UP SOLAIR). “We always have to recognize the fact that social justice developed as a concept in the workplace due to the vigilant efforts of the unions,” adds Prof. Virginia Teodosio, Sibal’s colleague at UP SOLAIR.
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UP Forum, March-April 2009, http://www.up.edu.ph/upforum.php?issue=30&i=247 ;