A group of Philippine trade unions has launched a campaign aimed at achieving a living wage for the country's textile and garment workers.

Around 22 national and local unions affiliated with the IndustriAll Global Union took part in a three-day workshop last month to lay the framework and strategies for the campaign. Representatives from the Workers' Party and the NAGKAISA labour coalition also took part in the meetings in Baguio City, Philippines.

The unions agreed on an action plan that will reactivate a workers' coalition for a living wage, update an existing research study on the country's living wage, engage government and stakeholders in a national discussion, and see the launch of a large-scale awareness and information campaign.

There will also be a push for an amendment of the existing minimum wage fixing mechanism, the unions say, while plans are also in place to localise the ACT process in the clothing and textile industry tripartite council. The Action, Collaboration, Transformation (ACT) process, set up by IndustriAll, works to create a system that can increase wages in a sustainable and enforceable way.

In May it was recognised by G20 Labour Ministers as an example of the essential role played by social partners in reducing inequality, eliminating poverty wages and achieving sustainable wage growth.

Garment wage initiative is recognised by G20

Annie Adviento, IndustriAll South East Asia regional secretary, says of the new campaign: "There is a need for the affiliates to assess their strength in representing the sectors to be able to come up with an appropriate strategy in pushing for a just living wage."

She highlights three key elements for unions to pursue a living wage: supporting a national minimum wage campaign; increasing capacity to bargain for a living wage; and IndustriAlll's ACT initiative with global brands.

"The ACT process that has been developed by IndustriAll seeks to establish freedom of association, collective bargaining and living wages to be negotiated with major brands is worth replicating at every level."

The move comes just weeks after a Joint Department Order (DO) was signed by the country's Department of Trade & Industry-Board of Investments (DTI-BOI) and the Department of Labor & Employment (DOLE), providing guidelines for the issuance, suspension or revocation of certificates of accreditation for clothing companies.

The order means garment manufacturers, exporters, and subcontractors in the Philippines will have to abide by a new set of government guidelines that require compliance with global labour standards if they are to benefit from preferential tariffs.

Philippines to issue garment industry guidelines