LABOR GROUPS expressed the hope on Thursday that their dialogue with the International Labor Organization (ILO) Director-General Gilbert F. Houngbo will ultimately convey to the government various issues faced by Filipino workers, including violence.

“Director-General Houngbo’s visit sends a strong political message and while it was diplomatic, it puts pressure on the government to deliver on its promises,” Julius H. Cainglet, vice-president of the Federation of Free Workers, said at a briefing organized by the All Philippine Trade Unions coalition.

Mr. Houngbo told the labor organizations he was aware of reports of violence against workers in the Philippines and has been monitoring the situation for more than a decade, Mr. Cainglet said.

On Monday, Mr. Houngbo met with labor groups and employer representatives, Labor Secretary Bienvenido E. Laguesma and Migrant Workers Secretary Maria Susanna V. Ople.

He met with President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. the following day, with the two agreeing to collaborate to address labor issues.

Mr. Cainglet said the discussions with the trade unions were “no-holds-barred,” and tackled worker killings and the apparent impunity of the perpetrators of such violence. They also brought up hurdles being placed against the right to organize.

Mr. Houngbo also visited the Migrant Resource Centre in Quezon City, where he interacted with migrant Filipino workers and their families.

The ILO director-general also took part in celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of the Philippines’ membership in the ILO and delivered the keynote address at a global seafarers’ summit.

Labor groups are counting on the government to amend Executive Order 23, which created an inter-agency body to investigate incidents targeting trade unionists, Mr. Cainglet said.

He added that labor groups brought up the recommendation with Mr. Houngbo and asked him to raise this concern with Mr. Marcos.

The labor sector contends that the order minimized the role of workers.

“The order has to either be amended to include workers with full participation and decision making, or for the government to create a new order,” he told BusinessWorld.

“This inclusion will foster greater collaboration and ensure that the voices of workers are heard and considered in policy discussions.”

Earlier this month, Mr. Laguesma told the International Labor Conference the government is committed to ensuring both the worker and employer sectors are well-represented in discussions of wages and labor rights.

During his visit earlier this week, Mr. Houngbo reiterated a need for a new “social contract” between employers and workers worldwide to ensure a decent standard of living and safe working environment, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines said.

In February, a team of ILO representatives met with trade unions and government officials to discuss human rights violations against workers and union organizers.

That month, trade unions submitted a joint report to the ILO mission on labor rights violations, saying the government has consistently failed to comply with ILO conventions on freedom of association and the right to organize. — John Victor D. Ordoñez