Unions in the Philippines are celebrating the passage of a bill on expanded maternity leave by the House of Representatives that will soon become law.

IndustriAll Global Union hailed the move as a “major victory” for unions in the country, which have long campaigned on the issue. IndustriAll itself has campaigned on maternity protection since 2014.

Meeting with labour department officials, IndustriAll general secretary Valter Sanches expressed the need for more collaborative work with trade unions in the fight against precarious work, and for the passage of a security of tenure bill that is still pending at the Senate. The bill seeks to protect employment security of workers and guarantees their rights and benefits.

In addition, Sanches lauded the effort of women leaders in improving maternity protection, their support for 40% women’s representation, and campaigns for the advancement of women in leadership.

“We need to make sure that gender equity is reflected at the workplaces and in unions. It is important that women’s needs are reflected in union strategies, and it has to be inclusive,” he said, emphasising the importance of building unity among affiliates and establishing more sustainable unions.

“IndustriAll is a solidarity organisation. Unions that are well off extend support to those who are in need to make organisations stronger. Considering that union density in the Philippines is still at a low of 8%, affiliates have a lot of opportunity to organise. This is where the spirit of building unions as one of our key strategic goals sets in.”

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Sanches also met with legislators who supported security of tenure and other labour-related bills. There was an exchange of information on the political, economic and trade union contexts and programmes in the Philippines, Brazil and the rest of the world.

“The issue on the future of work will be challenging for trade unions,” he said during a meeting with ILO officials in Manila. “IndustriAll is preparing to meet these challenges and we are ready to engage at all levels.”

According to an overview of the Philippines on the new re:source by just-style online strategic planning tool, the country’s garment industry used to be a major export force but has struggled in recent years. Yet, the granting of GSP+ status for local garment countries to export to the EU shows promise and has helped to attract new investment in the industry from around Asia. The Filipino economy is diversified including large electronics and agriculture industries, and is amongst the fastest growing economies in Asia.