Monday, September 14, 2009

Labor unrest brewing vs. PAL spinoff

September 13, 2009

Rank and file workers of the Philippine Airlines are flexing their muscles against imminent job loss after the management bared its plan to implement a major restructuring program before the end of this year.

Gerry Rivera, PAL Employees Association (PALEA) president and vice chairperson of the labor party-list group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) is leading a noontime protest tomorrow to be held at the PAL In Flight Center, Airport Road, Paranaque City against what the union bewails as Lucio Tan’s predilection of throwing the weight of his corporate problems to the workers.

A signature campaign against the spinoff is also ongoing and after the noontime protest tomorrow, a press conference followed by a motorcade rally is tentatively scheduled on Wednesday.

Last September 9, the PAL management informed its employees that a spinoff will be implemented beginning November 15. The planned spinoff will affect an estimated 2,000 workers —almost half of the total workforce in the airline’s catering, passenger handling, ramp handling and cargo handling operations.

PAL is currently reviewing its entire organizational set-up to make the workforce “lean and mean," after suffering heavy losses this year. A company statement said that as of end-March this year, the airline posted $301.4 million in losses. According to Flight's ACAS database, PAL had 7,751 employees in 2007.

PAL employees are resisting the planned spinoff as they believe that its main aim is to bust the union by outsourcing those work to companies that are also owned by Lucio Tan such as MacroAsia Corp. where workers are non-unionized, receive cheaper wages, less benefits and without security of tenure.

“More than 5,000 of our employees suffered this onslaught ten years ago and we see it coming again on the same pretext that the company used to justify massive outsourcing plan before,” explained Rivera.

Rivera pointed out that since catering, passenger, cargo and ramp handling operations cannot be replaced by modern machines, “the management can only think of replacing secured and trained workers with contractual ‘modern-day slaves’ to cut down on costs.”

“This is unacceptable,” Rivera declared, insisting that labor should not be made the usual sacrificial lamb in every corporate restructuring programs.

“Why put everything on our shoulders? Corporations worldwide had been bailed out many times over, why can’t the same be done to workers who are the very lifeblood of this dying system,” concludes Rivera.

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