“Our union, our power,” became common expression among the participants from the different Ministries, Agencies, and Offices (MAOs) of the Bangsamoro, including the Information Officer of the Ministry of Human Settlements and Development, the Housing Arm of the BARMM, after appreciating the presentations and interactive discussions at the BARMM Employees’ Association (BARMMEA) Organizing Workshop held at the Pagana Kutawato Native Restaurant, Cotabato City on February 22, 2024.

The activity was organized by the interim officers of the association, with the effective assistance of SENTRO (Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa), IUF (International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers), and Confederation of Independent Unions in the Public Sector (CIU).

BARMMEA is a union that represents the interests of the employees of the BARMM and they conducted the workshop aimed at providing focal persons with the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively communicate the right and relevant information to their co-employees and make them part of the association.

Salembai A. Abdullah, Information Officer III, represented the MHSD and expressed how the event enlightened her to the vital role and value of the union within the Bangsamoro, emphasizing its continuing commitment to safeguarding the well-being of the employees.

Through the workshop, the organizers and the participants have realized the significant role of union in proactively responding to impending issues on but not limited to relocation of BARMM employees if ever the government seat will be transferred from Cotabato City to other location, and the security of the employees whenever changes in the regional administration happens.

Atty. Lanang T. Ali, Jr., Deputy Parliament Speaker of the BTA, lauded the association for its meaningful efforts centered in protecting the rights and welfare of the employees.

“Congratulations to you as you have become part of the BARMM history as this is the first-ever union in the Bangsamoro; you have to strengthen your organization and pay close attention to pressing issues that affect the employees,” said MP Atty. Ali.

Minister Mohagher M. Iqbal of the Ministry of Basic, Higher, and Technical Education (MBHTE) also delivered a message expressing his strong support to the BARMMEA for the benefit of all the employees of the BARMM.

Josua T. Mata of SENTRO explained why unions matter where he shared his experiences and said unions are permanent expressions of the workers’ power thru solidarity and are organizations run by the workers to fight for their interests.

He added that unions are established to gain respect for rights and welfare on job security, high wages, better benefits, safe working place, meritocracy among others ultimately to secure better future for the family and the core principles are democracy, liberty, solidarity, and equality.

Meanwhile, Abdulwahid Hadji Gafar Panganting of CIU carefully presented the significant information on unionism, legal bases, and registration and accreditation of union in the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and in the Civil Service Commission (CSC).

Dr. Muhammad Hidayat Greenfield, Regional Secretary of the IUF Asia-Pacific, shared relevant experiences and best practices to the group aimed at inspiring them to keep going to attain their goals as employees and as members of the association.

Before the workshop concluded, Allan D. Calido, RN, JD, BARMMEA Interim Secretary General facilitated the planning for ways forward that made possible the identification of next significant steps in attaining the priority objectives of the association with the help of the focals from the MAOs.

Professor Tahir G. Nalg, MAIS, BARMMEA Interim President, Hashim B. Manticayan, MAIS, and other officers of the association actively participated in steering the workshop, ensuring its success and continuity of its cause.