ILO, DOLE-XI collab for sustainable compliance in banana industry

MAJOR EXPORTER. The Philippines looks forward to more exports of fresh Cavendish bananas to Japan, as it recently lifted the 100 percent mandatory testing for Philippine banana exports. (SunStar file)
MAJOR EXPORTER. The Philippines looks forward to more exports of fresh Cavendish bananas to Japan, as it recently lifted the 100 percent mandatory testing for Philippine banana exports. (SunStar file)

DAVAO CITY — The International Labour Organization (ILO) Rural Sectors Project, in collaboration with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)-Davao del Norte Field Office (DOLE-DNFO), held a pivotal meeting on May 14, 2024 with the Banana Industry Tripartite Council (BITC). This event, held in Davao City, marked a significant step towards fostering sustainable compliance within the banana industry, one of the key economic sectors in the region.

The meeting brought together labor and employer representatives within the BITC, providing a platform for sharing recommendations and updates on initiatives aimed at promoting sustained compliance in the sector. The BITC, a collaborative body comprising government, employers, and workers, plays a crucial role in addressing industry-specific challenges and promoting harmonious labor relations.

During the event, DOLE-Davao Region (DOLE-Davao) Regional Director Atty. Randolf Pensoy unveiled the consolidated Strategic Compliance Plan (SCP). This comprehensive plan is designed to foster collaboration between large enterprises and small-scale banana growers. The SCP includes strategies such as facilitating access to capital, affordable inputs, and technology for small-scale growers with the support of larger enterprises. It also emphasizes knowledge sharing to enhance farming practices, capacity-building through specialized training, and providing small-scale growers with access to established distribution networks and international markets.

The meeting also featured an outcome harvesting workshop and documentation of good practices, allowing regional and social partners to discuss progress and share experiences.

Key topics included gender mainstreaming strategies, awareness-raising on occupational safety and health (OSH) standards, and addressing sector-specific labor issues within Industry Tripartite Councils (ITCs). These were presented by Cerilyn Pastolero, Project Manager, highlighting the project's commitment to inclusive and safe labor practices.

Notable attendees included Alyannah Lagasca and Antoinette Santos from ILO, BITC Vice-Chairperson for Labor Samuel Cardenio, BITC Vice-Chairperson for Management Beatriz Francia, and personnel from the DOLE-Davao Labor Relations team. Their presence underscored the collective effort and commitment to improving labor conditions in the banana industry.

Supported by the US Department of Labor (US DOL), the ILO Rural Sectors Project aims to address the unique challenges faced by workers and employers in rural economies. By fostering partnerships and implementing innovative strategies, the project seeks to advance the welfare of workers, promote sustainable compliance, and enhance industrial relations in the region.

The impact of this collaboration is expected to be far-reaching.

Small-scale banana growers will benefit from enhanced access to resources and markets, which could lead to increased productivity and income. Improved compliance with labor standards and enhanced OSH awareness will contribute to safer and more equitable working conditions. Ultimately, these efforts aim to create a more sustainable and inclusive banana industry, fostering economic growth and improving the livelihoods of thousands of workers in Davao del Norte.

As the ILO Rural Sectors Project and DOLE-DNFO continue to work together, the future of the banana industry in Davao del Norte looks promising, with the potential to serve as a model for other agricultural sectors in the Philippines and beyond. PIA with reports from PR

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