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The right of employees to self-organization is embodied in the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Furthermore, it is the policy of the Philippines to promote the free and responsible exercise of the right to self-organization.


Employees generally have the right to self-organization and the right to form, join or assist labor unions for purposes of collective bargaining. There are, however, certain limitations to the right to form, join or assist labor unions. Managerial employees and confidential employees are not eligible to form, join or assist labor unions. Supervisory employees are not eligible for membership in the collective bargaining unit of rank-and-file employees, but may join, assist or form separate collective bargaining units and/or labor unions of their own.


While the formation of labor unions is encouraged, the activities of labor unions are regulated. For example, labor unions are not allowed to commit unfair labor practices. Labor unions are prohibited from, among other things: (i) restraining or coercing employees in the exercise of their right to self-organization; (ii) causing or attempting to cause an employer to discriminate against an employee; and (iii) asking for or accepting negotiation fees from the employer as part of the settlement of any issue in collective bargaining.


A labor union has to be registered with the DOLE for it to enjoy all the rights granted by law to labor unions. It may register as an independent labor union or as a charter of a federation or national union. Also, it has to be recognized or certified as the exclusive bargaining representative of the employees of the bargaining unit for it to represent them in collective bargaining. The Labor Code and its implementing rules and regulations define the registration process and specify the recognition or certification process and the manner of collective bargaining.


Employees, through their union representatives, may negotiate and enter into collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) with their employers. The employees negotiate the terms and conditions of their employment through CBAs.


Employees, under specified circumstances, have the right to conduct a strike in accordance with law. Correspondingly, the employer, under specified circumstances, has the right to lock out employees.


Aside from labor unions, employees may form and join workers’ associations and other mutual aid and benefit associations for legitimate purposes, other than collective bargaining. 


The Labor Code also allows the formation of labor-management councils in private companies to provide a venue for labor and management representatives to discuss company and personnel policies. The Labor Code and its implementing rules and regulations specify the organizational structure and procedures in forming such councils.

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