On 30 November Australian unions joined the Global Day of Action in solidarity with unions in the Philippines, who are uniting to defend democracy and defend workers’ rights. Actions were held outside the Embassy in Canberra and the consulates in Sydney and Perth, and union members joined in the social media action calling for hands off trade unions in the Philippines!

The Philippines is ranked as one of the ten worst countries in the world for workers – 50 trade union members and leaders have been murdered by extra-judicial violence for their trade union work since the Duterte administration came to power in 2016. Trade union leaders and activists are criminalised through a process of ‘red tagging’ by the Government, where unionists are spied on, portrayed as terrorists, unjustly detained and even killed by police and paramilitary groups. 

In July, the Duterte Government used the cover of the COVID-19 pandemic to step up repression against unions by passing an Anti-Terrorism Act, which further threatens the rights of workers to organise. The international community is alarmed by the situation in the Philippines – the UN Human Rights Council, the European Union, and the International Labour Organisation have all passed resolutions or made recommendations to the Duterte government to address human and trade union rights violations – but no progress has been made, and the Philippines government has yet to accept the ILO high level tripartite mission recommended over a year ago at the international labour conference. 

Unions around the world are standing with Filipino unions to call on the Duterte Government to:

o   Stop the red-tagging, the attacks and the killings of trade unionists, and ensure accountability for the extra-judicial killings

o   Repeal the Anti-Terrorism Act

o   Ensure health, security and safety at work for all

o   Accept the ILO high level tripartite mission to the Philippines

Australian unions also called on the Morrison Government to stop enabling human rights violations in the Philippines through its continued funding and support of the Armed Forces of the Philippines – no Australian taxpayer money should be spent supporting a regime that routinely violates the rights of trade unionists, journalists and human rights activists.

The ACTU wrote to President Duterte and Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne urging immediate action to stop the human and trade union rights violations in the Philippines.