The Filipino law protects the right to form and join trade unions, conduct legal strikes and bargain collectively, except for the military and police. Labour laws apply uniformly throughout the country. There is a difference in rights that apply for regular or permanent employees and short-term contractual labour. The use of short-term contractual labour is widespread in the Philippines, especially by large private sector companies. In the special economic zones, often non-permanent employment contracts are used (fixed-term, casual, temporary, seasonal) which, combined with restricted access to these zones, makes the organisation of unions little successful.
The Philippines is listed among the world’s ten worst countries for workers with violence and murder, arbitrary arrests and union busting (“red-tagging”) practices. The country scores a 5 on the ITUC Global Rights Index (scale 1-5) for freedom of association and workers’ rights which stands for no guarantee of rights. While legislation may include rights, in practice workers have no access to these rights and are therefore exposed to autocratic regimes and unfair labour practices. It is the country with the highest number of killings of human rights defenders in Asia: in 2015, ten human rights defenders were murdered.