The Dept. of Trade &; Industry and the Dept. of Labor and Employment are working together to ensure that export-oriented firms comply with international standards to keep the country competitive. Both agencies signed a Joint Department Order setting the guidelines on the issuance, suspension or revocation of certificates of accreditation for garment firms.

The certification guidelines cover exporters, garment manufacturers and sub-contractors who hope to avail of preferential tariffs under the Generalized System of Preferences or GSP. The creation of A Workers' Rights Review Committee has also been provided in the joint order.

The two agencies actually started collaborating on the Joint Dept. Order as early as 2010 together with the Clothing and Textile Industry Tripartite Council. The order was designed to help promote labor laws compliance and standards in the garment industry through certification and decertification mechanisms.

The Board of Investments under the Dept. of Trade will serve as the agency's Accreditation Board. The Certificates of Accreditation issued by BOI will be mandatory for exporters, manufacturers and subcontractors availing of preferential tariffs under the Garments and Textile Import Services. However, the accreditation will be voluntary for all other garment firms.

The accreditation will be valid for three years but may be suspended or revoked for failure to comply with the labor minimum standards set up by DTI Accreditation Board. The Board of Investments has taken over the function of the Textile Import Services as far as accreditation is concerned through an Administrative Order. The accreditation also covers importers.

The Workers' Rights Review Committee, on the other hand, is composed of representatives from DTI, DOLE, the labor sector and the employers' sector. The Committee is tasked with the conduction of an audit of the applicant's compliance with labor standards provided in Section 8 of the Joint Dept. Order.

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