Tuesday, September 22, 2009

PAL employees hold motorcade vs. spinoff, call attention of ILO

Press Release
September 22, 2009
PAL Employees Association

Philippines Airlines (PAL) employees held a motorcade today in a protest against the spinoff to be implemented on November 15. An estimated 2,000 employees, about half of the total PAL workforce, will be retrenched due to the spinoff of the catering, passenger handling, ramp handling and cargo handling operations.

The “Motorcade Kontra Spinoff” of some 40 cars and motorcycles started assembling at 10:30 am in the Coastal Mall in the intersection Coastal Road and Airport Road. By noon the motorcade then proceeded along the Diosdado Macapagal Ave. in Pasay City to the PAL Center located at the PNB Compound. It then moved on to Nichols airport terminal and finally ended at the PAL In Flight Center (IFC) along Airport Road in Paranaque.

Gerry Rivera, president of the PAL Employees Association (PALEA), said that “Spinoff aims to outsource work to companies also owned by Lucio Tan where workers will be non-union and thus receive cheaper wages, fewer benefits and have no security of tenure. Regular workers will be retired and then rehired as contractuals. This has happened before when work was spun off to Lufthansa Technik and Macro Asia, in which Lucio Tan both had major interests. Employees retrenched from PAL because of the spinoff were employed by Macro Asia and Lufthansa Technik on new contracts.”

Last week a Rivera and the PALEA led a noise barrage at the PAL IFC to jumpstart the campaign against the spinoff. Rivera also revealed that they have organized a signature campaign versus the spinoff among PAL employees. He insisted that “Spinoff is not a solution to company losses but a scheme to contractualize labor and raise more profit not from better efficiency of work but from greater exploitation of workers.”

Meanwhile Rivera appealed to the International Labor Organization High Level Mission (ILO HLM) to investigate the case of PAL since management’s suspension of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and spinoff of operations has weakened one of the erstwhile strongest unions in the country. The ILO HLM is tasked to hear complaints of government’s violations of Convention 87 on the freedom to unionize and Convention 98 on right of collective bargaining.

According to Rivera, in 1998 PAL with the connivance of a government formed Inter-Agency Task Force pressured the PALEA into suspending the CBA for 10 years. Rivera, then PALEA vice-president, questioned the CBA suspension on grounds that the right to self-organization and collective bargaining, being founded on public policy, cannot be waived. But the Supreme Court in a precedent-setting decision affirmed the 10-year CBA suspension despite clear provisions of the labor code that 5 years is the maximum statutory life of a CBA and 5 years is the maximum period for a sole and exclusive bargaining agent after which its representation status can be contested by another union.

Rivera is also calling the attention of the ILO HLM on the results of the elections for union officers of PALEA that has remained in limbo for 7 years since 2002. The case has remained unresolved by the Supreme Court effectively paralyzing the operations of the union and giving management an alibi to deny representation status to PALEA.


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