Anti-Age Discrimination

Anti-age discrimination advocates call for swift passage of a law

3 June 2014

A multi-sectoral group today called on the House of Representatives to take its cue from the Senate in moving to ban age discrimination in the workplaces.

Various labor groups including the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, that make up the “Abilidad, Hindi Edad” Coalition, made the call citing information that the Senate labor committee is now circulating its committee report on the proposed law.

“As advocates for the welfare of Filipino workers here and abroad, we believe that a qualified job applicant should be allowed to vie for a position without being judged solely because of his or her age,” OFW advocate Susan Ople said.

“Various OFW groups and trade unions are united in calling for the swift passage of a law to stop the discriminatory practice of imposing age requirements on job applicants, thus causing demoralization among Filipino workers including our OFWs,” she said.

During the CBCP Forum, Ople was joined by former OFW Violeta Moraleta who narrated how she felt discriminated due to age when she applied for a local job.

Pearl Teves of Pinoy Expats/OFW Blog Awards (PEBA) and Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) representative Flor Cabatingan were also present to express support for the passage of a law banning age discrimination in the workplace.

After conducting a public hearing, the Senate labor committee chaired by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada is expected to submit to the floor a committee report on anti-age discrimination bill, logged as Senate Bill (SB) 29 and authored by Sen. Pia Cayetano.

The “Abilidad, Hindi Edad” Coalition is composed of the representatives of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP),  Ang Nars Partylist, the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, PSLINK, Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) – Sentro, Mandaluyong City Councilor Jesse Cruz, and the Federation of Free Workers. The Ople Center serves as the coalition’s secretariat. Those who believe that age discrimination in the workplace should be prohibited can contact the policy center via 833-5337 for updates on its activities. They can also support the online petition on age discrimination by via www.change.org/abilidadhindiedad.

During the first organizational meeting of the Coalition, resource person Diane Lynn Respall, programme officer of the ILO, noted that the Philippine does not have a specific law which prohibits discrimination in the workplaces despite being a signatory to the ILO Convention 111.

Under ILO Convention 111, all workers should be protected against discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin, and other factors preventing them from participating in the labor market and reaching their full potential.

“We need the support not only of our national legislators but also among our local elective officials, especially those sitting in the local legislative councils,” said city councilor Cruz, who once served as Mandaluyong’s vice mayor for three consecutive terms. Cruz recently filed a resolution with the city council expressing support for the passage of an anti-age discrimination law.

Ople said the coalition intends to bring the issue not only to the attention of Congress but also to local governments that can pass ordinances to discourage discriminatory labor practices in their localities.

“Our OFWs whom we call our modern heroes, as well as all local workers, should be given fair and equal opportunity to land jobs in the country because of their skills and competence, and not with age as sole determinant. Unfortunately, a lot of our workers believe that there are better chances of finding work overseas because the work environment is not as restrictive and unfair,” she said.

Last May 1, the Blas F. Ople Policy Center initiated an online petition seeking public support for the passage into law of a measure prohibiting age discrimination in workplaces. To date, it has garnered 4,600 signatures and is still counting. (30)