Collective Bargaining for Environmental Protection:
A Union Case Study from the Philippines
In a country where the environment has emerged as a major public concern, a breakthrough was achieved when an industry leader and its union negotiated an environmental protection clause into their collective bargaining agreement. The Congress of Independent Organizations-Associated Labor Unions (CIO-ALU) reached an agreement with the San Miguel Corporation, the Philippines' largest company, which provides a framework for labor-management co-operation in all matters relating to the environment. With no demand for any trade-offs, agreement was reached on environmental provisions which make a Labor-Management Committee responsible for programs on environmentally clean operations, protection and rehabilitation. This commitment to joint responsibility and action has laid the basis for mutual trust and harmonious relations on this matter, and countered widespread concern amongst employers that opening up collective agreement to environmental clauses would reduce flexibility and promote an adversarial relationship. It likewise, countered concerns amongst workers, that opening this area could have negative implications for such traditional bargaining concerns as wages. The breakthrough also reaffirmed the strong leadership of the government of the Philippines, which was the first in Asia to establish a national body to coordinate a National Sustainable Development effort following Rio. It also profiled the valuable role played by the International Labor Organization which worked with the government as well as the two workplace parties to promote this breakthrough towards Agenda 21 goals. The Participants: In the Workplace and Beyond
San Miguel Corporation (SMC), a multinational Philippine corporation, is the largest publicly-listed food, beverage, agri-business and packaging company in the Philippines and Southeast Asia, generating about 4% of the country's GDP and contributing about 6% of all government tax revenues. With over 30,000 employees and a market capitalization of over $US 5 billion, it is the country's largest employer, and according to business journals, "the closest business approximation to a national symbol". The company's principle of "Profit with Honor", is now being translated by its latest head, Robert Soriano III, into a commitment to the environmental protection. San Miguel Beer holds more than 80% of the domestic Philippine market, and is one of the largest breweries in the world. As well, it accounts for 75 per cent of the country's soft drink, 66 per cent of the ice cream market, and supplies about 75 per cent of the country's glass and metal containers. It is now expanding its holdings with a massive program to acquire breweries and bottling plants in China, Indonesia and elsewhere in Asia. The union involved in the San Miguel agreement is the Congress of Independent Organizations-Associated Labor Unions (CIO-ALU). With members across the country, it is primarily committed to a focus on economic benefits, rather than any explicitly political objectives. It is affiliated to the Trade Union Congress of The Philippines (TUCP), which is the country's major labor centre, and an affiliate of the ICFTU. TUCP is an umbrella organization comprised of 50 affiliated labor organizations, together accounting for more than half the organized workers in the country. It has been active on the Philippines Committee on Strengthening the Role of Major Groups, and is committed to active participation as a collective voice for workers, women, the poor and youth in the political process, including legislative lobbying and mass action. The Labor Advisory Consultative Council (LACC) is a coalition of labor groups composed of the Federation of Free Workers (FFW), Kilusang Mayo Uno (May Ist Movement), the Lakas Manggagawa Labor Centre (LMLC), the National Association of Trade Unions (NATU), Trade Unions of the Philippines and...
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