Put People First in the GATS Talks

Resolution 01-2005
We, members of trade unions, NGO’s, people’s organizations and other sectors of society, meeting at the Occupational Health and Safety Center (OHSC) this 11th of February 2005, in a Conference-Workshop on “Jobs and Welfare in a Globalizing Philippines: Trade Unions and Civil Society on GATS Talks”, hereby declare

OUR COLLECTIVE CONCERN over the lack of transparency in the ongoing trade negotiations under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) as evidenced by the absence of any public information on the requests made by other WTO member countries and the offers being contemplated by the Philippines, on the state of the sectoral trade talks on services and the kind of adjustments service industries should make under any service trade liberalization;

OUR COLLECTIVE DISGUST over the unilateral decision of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) to draw up a Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) without any public consultations and to commit the country, under Chapter 25 of the said MTPDP, to a wholesale liberalization of the economy by purging the Constitution of its nationalist safeguards, including proposals to open up land, mining, media, advertising, aviation and other sectors to full foreign ownership and control;

OUR COLLECTIVE ANXIETY over the fact that like in the past unilateral liberalization commitments made in industry and agriculture, unilateral liberalization commitments made in services without any public consultations with the stakeholders, especially workers and local investors, are likely to lead to more layoffs and business closures, as big foreign service companies, mainly transnational corporations, are in the business of taking over existing service industries, merging or consolidating them and transforming competition into an intra- or inter-TNC game; and

OUR COLLECTIVE STAND that any GATS negotiations

  • should be transparent,
  • should involve the trade unions, civil societies, local businesses and other affected stakeholders,
  • should leave untouched essential public services such as health and education, should give the government maximum flexibility to intervene in making basic services affordable and accessible to the great masses of our people,
  • should not compromise our nation’s cultural diversity, heritage and identity,
  • should be preceded by jobs and social impact assessment,
  • should include adequate social safety nets,
  • should promote genuine competition by curbing powers of TNCs and big corporations to monopolize competition, and
  • should ensure balanced and progressive development of the economy.

We, therefore, call on the government to heed the people’s call – Put people first in the GATS and other trade talks under the WTO!

Further, we call on the government to institute the necessary  mechanisms through which the views of the trade unions and civil societies can be aired and heard before any GATS and other trade commitments are made, including  the full utilization of the existing industry tripartite councils in various sectors as the means for democratic dialogue between and among the different stakeholders of society!

We call upon the Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (TIPC) to push for the creation of a Permanent Consultative Body on the GATS Negotiations wherein the social partners, trade unions, employers and management are represented along with other stakeholders in the service sector.

We call on the government negotiators – do not go to the trade negotiating tables without hearing the people of this country!

ADOPTED this 11th day of February 2005 at the Occupational Safety and Health Center Auditorium, Quezon City.

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