The Regional Conciliation and Mediation Board – Cordillera Administrative Region (RCMB-CAR) prepared their social partners on the possible implications of today’s emerging digital revolution in the workplace. This was made through the conduct of  an online learning session entitled: “The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4th IR): Its Implications on Labor Management Relations and Gender Equality on March 25, 2021.

Atty Rebecca C. Chato, the resource speaker told the participants to move forward towards digitalization.  They need to activate their Labor Management Councils/Committees (LMCs) and to plan and design their agendas in the digital age, for a more ensured, smooth and non-disruptive transition.  She also encouraged them to prepare their training programs to match the technology they want to be adopted by utilizing government institutions like TESDA, DICT, and DTI.

According to her, the government as well as most companies are not yet ready for this digitalization until the COVID-19 virus hurried the arrival of the “future of work”. The lockdown has created a wide-scale remote working, increasing automation, a global revaluation of the care economy, and a more visible lack of social protection within the gig economy. The pandemic likewise slowed down the economic activities globally, shuttered factories and left workers jobless, on furlough, job rotation, or in temporary lay-off, and at the same time, accelerated them.

In connection with labor-management relations, Chato said that once the 4th IR becomes increasingly complex, unemployment will be very high and will be repeated due to the fast-evolving jobs and skills needed to perform them.  The health and safety of workers will gradually change due to different work environments, new technologies and different Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) concerns. The industrial peace will also be disrupted and eventually dissipate due to evolving jobs, overhaul of offices or workplaces and more co-workspace arrangements effected. There will also be a wide division between low-skilled and high-skilled workers.

In relation to gender equality, the lecturer said that job opportunities for men and women are equally dependent on skills and the perceived nature of jobs that will be created. However, more men are employed in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (791,569 v. 612,832) and Information Technology (IT) related discipline (45,864 vs. 35,613).  These are just a few of the possible effects of the 4th IR which the speaker mentioned.

As part of her advocacy, she said that her team proposed the Digital Workplace Competitiveness Bill in the Senate, to ensure the competitiveness of the Philippines in terms of digital technology and innovations. She also shared that research studies show that other Asian countries have already institutionalized their digitalization processes and are way ahead on digital transformation while the Philippines is still starting.

With this learning session, one hundred seventy (170) social partners from sixty-nine (69) establishments are now aware and are ready when the 4th industrial revolution totally unfolds. “I like the topic on Change and Labor- Management Relations because it showed how the pandemic affected the different industries in our country and what is happening in the 4th Industrial revolution. It also showed us how the LMC should step up in every company to make sure that the companies are still surviving and how each of them will be able to create new jobs for the employees and help the company grow more. Lastly, I like that the implications on gender equality were tackled and how women are doing their best to do all their responsibilities while working from home,” Bernadette Anne C. Falcasantos of Infuturo, Inc. said.

Maggie B. Balagtey