Philippines, 2015 - Labor Education and Research Network (LEARN)
The problems faced by women workers in the Philippines vary across sectors. Sexual harassment is more pronounced in the broadcast and hospital and healthcare than in other industries. In the garments manufacturing industries, women workers complain about poor ventilation. On the other hand, in hotels and restaurants, women’s issues are centred on the unjust treatment of women who have just gone through pregnancy. They are usually forced to go back to work even if the maternity leave is not fully utilised yet. Women workers in the metal working industry raise OSH and job security issues like poor ventilation, personal protective equipment, exposure to chemicals, limited mobility, heavy physical work, and short-term contract arrangements.
Although some unions are able to secure the rights of women workers, there is still much to be done. For instance, unions try to fight for the inclusion in collective bargaining agreements of women workers’ rights that are not legally mandatory such as menstrual leaves, lactation spaces, safe working environment, and day care for the children of workers. Meanwhile, unions are also expected to be able to negotiate for better terms of maternity leaves and benefits, work hours and compensation, and health and gynaecological services. Mere knowledge of the laws for women does not guarantee union representatives the ability to effectively articulate the interest of women workers; union members and leaders should be educated constantly to increase awareness on women’s issues and rights and enhance gender sensitivity.