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Labor education in tertiary’s curriculum

Inclusion of rights of workers to self-organization, collective bargaining, security of tenure, just and humane conditions of work, social protection and other core labor standards are some of the salient points of the law recently signed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

Republic Act No. 11551 also known as “Labor Education Act,” was signed by President Duterte on May 27, 2021. The passage of the law would integrate labor education in the tertiary curriculum. Both public and private higher education institutions (HEIs) are covered by the law.

“All public and private higher education institutions shall integrate labor education as part of an elective course; and as far as practicable, hold a Labor Empowerment Career Guidance Conference which graduating students shall attend,” the law read.

Verily, labor education, according to the law, is defined as “teaching of basic knowledge on labor rights and other skills relating to negotiation, fostering smooth interpersonal relations in the workplace, and mechanisms for redress of grievances and other concerns.” 

The recently signed measure was authored by Congressman Raymond Democrito Cañete Mendoza, TUCP Party-list Representative, under House Bill No. 4466.

The counterpart measure of the Senate under Senate Bill No. 1513 was authored by Senator Joel Villanueva, Senate Chair, Committee on Higher Education. Under SB Bill No. 1513, it consolidated other related bills on labor education as well as the counterpart measure of the bill authored by Congressman Mendoza.

The law recognizes the need for the state to put in place as mechanism to educate new labor entrants in the field of work, employers and entrepreneurs on their constitutional rights and responsibilities in promoting industrial peace and harmony at the workplace and social progress in society, the law stated.

“Clearly, the government must strive to make every Filipino worker aware of his or her right. It is equally unfortunate that even Filipino entrepreneurs are also inadequately educated on labor rights, noted Senator Villanueva.

Villanueva, the Chamber’s Labor Committee Chair also made a categorical explanation, stating, that due to the pandemic massive job displacements and implementation of various company cost-cutting measure were implemented by businesses.   

Contrary to this, it is important that we have a labor force who is knowledgeable of their labor right and remedies under the law in case their rights are violated, added Senator Villanueva.

Apparently, due to lack of knowledge both on the part of the workers and entrepreneurs on labor rights and access to legal remedies are common denominators where labor rights of workers are easily disregarded.

Consequently, a huge number of Filipino workers in the country and abroad still face problems due to disregard of current laws on the right and protection of workers, Senator Villanueva cited.

Workers’ problems such as concerning fair wages, job security, safe workplaces, social protection, workers’ welfare and benefits, unfair labor practices and other issues related to labor and employment are common issues affecting today’s workforce.

Predicated on this, I hope the new law, R.A. 11551 will serve as a catalyst for change in the labor front. It also seeks to include labor education in the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) curriculum.

The coverage and quality of labor education shall be included in a comprehensive curriculum review to be conducted by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

The CHED and TESDA are mandated in consultation with the DOLE and relevant stakeholders shall formulate the implementing rules and regulations to effectively implement the provisions of the newly signed law.