Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz called its tripartite partners which include the mill workers sector, field workers sector, planters sector, millers sector, the regional directors and staff of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Board (RTWPB) board secretaries in regions 2, 3, 4A and 5 for greater collaboration, support and commitment to come up with a national Human Resource Development  (HRD) masterplan that would eventually achieve decent work and better quality of lives for the most vulnerable workers in the sugarcane industry.

The HRD masterplan is envisioned to support the sugarcane industry path to greater productivity and competitiveness as a result of the reduction of tariff rates on imported sugar to five percent in 2015. This tariff reduction is aimed to   prepare the local industry to compete with the produce of other ASEAN countries.

Undersecretary Ciriaco A. Lagunzad III, meanwhile, in his closing remarks during the two-day Luzon Cluster Consultation Workshop on the Formulation of HRD Master Plan in the Sugarcane Industry last January 8-9, 2015 at Lancaster Hotel, Mandaluyong City, reassured the participants that safety nets shall be provided by the government to ensure greater productivity in the industry. He said that social protection for the workers is one of the government’s top priority. “The sugar mills cannot run without the canes and canes cannot grow without the workers,” he emphasized.

There will be three more consultation workshops which include the Visayas cluster (Regions 7 and 8), Mindanao Cluster (regions 10, 11 and 12) and Bacolod (covering Panay and Negros Occidental provinces). A national consultation workshop will be conducted this year after these series of cluster consultations. There are 26 milling districts all over the country where 11 are found in Panay and Negros Occidental provinces.

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