To highlight the need of inclusive workplaces for LGBTs in the Philippines, Rainbow Rights Project Inc. (R-Rights) – in partnership with the United States Embassy in Manila – sponsored dialogues in Quezon City with the Department of Labor and its attached bureaus and agencies and public sector labor unions.
“The good thing with the discussion with government people is the need to have inclusive language in the discussions of gender. We have strong gender laws and policies but we are blind with the plight of LGBTs who are our co-workers, our employees, and sometimes our employers,” said Angie Umbac, R-Rights president.
R-Rights sees the need to engage with government officials, offices, and more importantly with public sector labor unions and employees on LGBT rights.
“For me, I consider them as a first line of defense. Public sector labor unions go into collective bargaining agreements. These are employees calling for the protection of their rights in the workplace and negotiation with their employers. It is important that they know that in their midst are LGBT employees and workers whose rights they need to carry to the table,” said Umbac.
For R-Rights, the need to protect their co-workers who may be victims of violence and discrimination in the workplace is also an issue.
“It is also important for those in the public sector who are whistle blowers and who are the first to bring out the issue of impropriety in the workplace that they be there to talk about the discrimination that happens to their colleagues and to push for reforms in employment policies,” said Umbac.
On International Labor Day, R-Rights called for everyone to remember that LGBT people are workers too.
“Their rights are workers’ rights. When they ask to use the toilet, they are doing so as workers who are entitled to the same safe, secure facilities as the rest of us. As workers they are also entitled to the benefits that the rest of us enjoy. That includes protections for their families and loved ones,” said Umbac.
For R-Rights, these benefits continue to be not given to LGBT people.
“We know that they do not have social security for their partners because their relationships are not recognized in many offices in the Philippines. We also know that they are not considered desirable for many positions. Many of them are not hired or are not promoted. These are workers’ rights. These are issues that we need to remember when we talk about the rights of workers everywhere,” Umbac ended.
For Angie Umbac, R-Rights president, “the good thing with the discussion with government people is the need to have inclusive language in the discussions of gender. We have strong gender laws and policies but we are blind with the plight of LGBTs who are our co-workers, our employees, and sometimes our employers.”