MANILA -- Participants in the ongoing 8th Association of South East Nations (ASEAN) Regional Tripartite Social Dialogue Conference here are discussing topics concerning labor and employer.

According to Bureau of Labor Relations (BLR) Director Benjo Benavidez, among the issues to be tackled are good practices in industrial relations, migrant workers, issues that confront workers with respect to technological advancement as well as the public sector.

“At the end of the conference, the participants are expected to come up with a declaration how we will go forward in respect to these issues and concerns in industrial labor relations which consists (of) unionism, collective bargaining agreement, inspection,” he said.

Benavidez said this declaration was not yet binding and “just a declaration among the sector.” 

Some 200 attendees are expected to participate in the two-day event which started on Wednesday at the Century Park hotel in Manila.

Benavidez said the conference was among the activities of the ASEAN 50th anniversary this year.

“So on the part of the tripartite constituents—labor and employee—we organized this activity to surface issues (with)concern sa labor and employer,” the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) official added.

On the other hand, DOLE Undersecretary Joel Maglunsod noted that what was important in coming up with a declaration among ASEAN countries was their understanding in dealing with issues.

The DOLE official added that the output could possibly be used in future ASEAN meetings.

Meanwhile, labor groups are calling for an improved labor standards and safer workplace in the light of the mobility of 9 million workers amid the employment opportunities in the growing economic integration of the 10-member states.

“We aspire for the inclusion of trade unions in the policy formulation, enforcement and monitoring of general labor standards and occupational safety and health standards among ASEAN countries so that economic growth brought by the integration is inclusive,” said Gerard Seno, ALU-TUCP National Executive Vice President in a statement.

For his part, BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson said there was a need to raise the level of workers participation in the ASEAN, national and local level to avoid a race to the bottom among workers in ASEAN. 

“We have achieved minimum social dialogue in the region but it is not sufficient to gain social and economic justice for ASEAN workers. Social and economic justice should be ASEAN’s goal alongside economic growth through integration,” he added. 

The conference is being hosted by the DOLE.  (PNA)