The Philippines Is One of the Worst Countries to Work in, Says 2020 Study

The Philippines ranks with countries with 'no guarantee of workers rights.'

Being in the “top” anything isn’t always a good thing, especially when you’re being recognized for less than stellar working conditions.

In this year’s Global Rights Index by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the Philippines was given the (dis)honor of being named one of the top 10 dangerous places for workers.

In the 2020 index, 144 countries were rated on a scale from one to five on the degree of respect given to workers in the country, with five being the worst rating indicating “no guarantee of rights.” Unfortunately for us, the Philippines was considered one of the top ten worst countries to work in, alongside Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Honduras, India, Kazakhstan, Turkey, and Zimbabwe.

The Middle East and North Africa were labeled the worst region with an average score of 4.44, followed by the Asia Pacific with 4.09, indicating a “systematic violation of rights.” Africa was given the rating of 3.77 and the Americas a score of 3.48, which means “regular violations of rights.” Europe scored the best with 2.49, indicating only “repeating violation of rights.”


This year’s index pointed out that the global violations against workers reached a seven-year high as “the existing repression of unions and the refusal of governments to respect rights and engage in social dialogue has exposed workers to illness and death and left countries unable to fight the pandemic effectively,” reported ITUC.

Globally, 85 percent of countries have violated the right to strike, 80 percent have violated the right to collective bargaining, 74 percent have excluded workers from the right to establish or join a trade union, and 72 percent have zero or restricted access to justice. Meanwhile, workers were arrested and detained in 61 countries, 56 countries have denied workers their freedom of speech and assembly. Violence and harassment against workers has occurred in 51 countries, while outright murders have been recorded in Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras, Iraq, South Africa, and the Philippines.

In the Philippine report, Coca-Cola, NutriAsia, Pepmaco, and Pioneer Float Glass Manufacturing Inc. got a special shout out in the report for alleged violence and deaths, arbitrary arrests, and union busting practices.  

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According to ITUC, the world’s largest trade union federation, “Union members were particularly at risk of violence, intimidation and murder. In a context of extreme state violence and suppression of civil liberties, employers’ tactics to label unions as “subversive organizations”, in a process commonly known as “red-tagging”, exposed their members to violence and repression.”

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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