Labor was SALIGAN’s first program upon its founding in 1987 shortly after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship. There was a felt need for legal support to the assertion of workers’ rights given the more favorable environment, specifically to security of employment, self-organization, and collective bargaining. Today, more than 18 years after SALIGAN’s inception, many gains have been achieved in the organization’s areas of concern. The need to sustain and use these gains as leverage through legal support for workers’ rights remains. SALIGAN continues these efforts in partnership with workers’ groups such as unions and federations.
SALIGAN’s consistent involvement in labor issues has evolved. While continuing its original activities, SALIGAN has expanded the program to cover more workers in private enterprises while strengthening links to government employees and the informal labor sector.
Of special note is the substantial growth in policy work. In coordination with workers’ organizations, SALIGAN routinely participates in various discussions on the enforcement of labor laws and the review of existing labor laws and policies.
SALIGAN continues to handle labor cases that meet the outlined criteria. Tactic sessions are also conducted with paralegals of partner-unions and organizations from the paralegal formation program. These legal clinics serve as venues for sharing experiences in actual case handling and updating themselves on developments in their respective unions.
In consultation with our partners, SALIGAN participates in policy debates concerning the review of the existing labor laws and policies, specifically the Labor Code of the Philippines, the principal set of legislation on labor. We attend congressional hearings, conferences and fora, and push for needed changes in the country’s labor laws and policies.
Leaders of workers’ groups are trained as paralegals to help their organizations address various legal problems. The comprehensive paralegal education program is conducted for six months, with six- to nine-session hours per week. More than 36 workers-paralegals were taught substantive law and skills, drawing the sector’s increased interest and participation in the highly successful program.
Annually, one- or two-day basic seminars are held to discuss the basic legal provisions on workers’ rights.
Research and publication
In support of its other activities under the Labor Program, SALIGAN develops and publishes manuals, seminar kits, policy papers, legal opinion, and primers. Among these are: Manual ng Manggagawang Paralegal, 10 Karapatan ng Mga Manggagawa, Saligan Batas, Piercing the Veil of Corporate Entity, and Labor Laws for NGO Workers.