By Jason B. Neola
NAGA CITY --- Small and medium enterprises (SMEs), where most people are employed, are often the least prepared to face natural disasters and the havoc they can leave in their wake.
This was stressed during the workshop on the role of business organizations in creating a culture of resilience and disaster preparedness held last Tuesday, May 8, at the Boardroom of Avenue Plaza Hotel, this city.
About 50 representatives from the business sector and the government from the provinces of Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, and Masbate and the cities of Naga, Legazpi, Iriga, and Masbate City attended the workshop conducted by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), with ECOP Bicol as host.
It was the first that such workshop by ILO and ECOP, particularly on disaster situations. The second, slated to be conducted in Zamboanga City today, May 10, will also deal with resilience and preparedness in times of conflict. Bicol is known to be the natural spot for typhoons and floods while Mindanao is faced with the problem of Muslim secessionist conflict.
Ray Tadeo of ECOP National Office said that because disasters impose a major threat to enterprise survival, ECOP – the national employers’ organization dealing with labor relations and socio-economic development – is committed to going beyond the traditional private sector role of merely making donations.
Together with ILO’s Bureau for Employers’ Activities, ECOP is working to develop strategies and practical tools that can be deployed to enterprises in the country. “If enterprises are equipped with basic knowledge and prevention tools, they will be able to rebound from disasters, resume normal operations, and be able to provide more jobs to people in affected areas.
Gary Rhynhart, ILO consultant who facilitated the workshop, said that since 2014, ILO has focused on strengthening the work that employers and business organizations conduct in fragile zones across the globe.
On the basis of this work, he said, the ILO has concluded that enterprises investment in disaster resilience and risk reduction pays off in many ways. This include protecting business operations and assets across the supply chain and workers’ livelihood, ensuring business continuity through timely hazard identification and risk management, saving money by adopting measures that avoid, minimize, transfer or share risk, and creating opportunities for engagement with other stakeholders through public-private partnerships for disaster risk reduction and resilience, among others.
ILo has extensive experience implementing employment generation projects for recovery and reconstruction in crisis settings through its flagship program “Jobs for Peace and resilience.” Last year, it established the Sustainable and Resilient Enterprise (SRE) Platform, a multi-partner ‘network of networks’ that aims to promote decent work and sustainable and resilient enterprises in fragile areas, vulnerable to natural disasters and/or conflicts.
ECOP on the other hand, has led the consolidation and articulation of employers’ interests in issues concerning labor, employment, industrial relations and socio-economic development.
While relatively new, ECOP Bicol which was established only last year as taken a pro-active stance in promoting good labor practices and dynamic community development while improving productivity and competitiveness.
Originally established as ECOP Naga, the local chapter has since evolved and accredited as ECOP Bicol encompassing all the six provinces of the region. Its president is Clarine Palomares Tobias with Joe Perez as Executive Director.
The Bicol workshop was partnered by the Metro Naga Chamber of Commerce and Industry whose president is Ferdinand ‘Dondon’ Sia and the Regional Association of Bicol Chambers of Business and Commerce.