April 19, 2010
Philippine Airlines (PAL) employees held a motorcade today in protest at a massive retrenchment to be implemented on May 31. An estimated 3,000 employees, more than half of the total PAL workforce, will be laid off due to the closure of the in flight catering services, airport services (which includes ground, cargo and ramp handling) and call center reservations including all support units.
The motorcade of some 40 cars and motorcycles started around 11:30 am at the PAL Center located at the PNB Compound along the Diosdado Macapagal Ave. in Pasay City. The motorcade moved on to Nichols airport terminal then onto the PAL In Flight Center (IFC) along Airport Road in Paranaque and finally ended at the Terminal 3 of the airport.
Gerry Rivera, newly elected president of the PAL Employees Association (PALEA) and vice-chairperson of the party-list Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), 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.”
Renato Magtubo, PM chairperson, meanwhile expressed support to the struggle of the PAL workers. He asserted that “We challenge the presidentiables to state their position on the scourge of contractualization and their platform on job generation. The workers are not satisfied with motherhood statements but want to hear concrete programs.”
Rivera explained that the motorcade is only the opening salvo in the fight against massive layoff in PAL. Plans to spinoff the same departments last year were stopped by protests by PAL workers led by Rivera. 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.”
PALEA was furnished a memo by PAL President and CEO Jaime Bautista dated April 16 which announced the planned layoff. Before the motorcade, the PALEA protesters attended at hearing at the DOLE-NCR for an interpleader filed by PAL management. The PAL union is alleging that an election protest filed by losing candidates in union elections held last February is part of the scheme to weaken PALEA in the face of the fight against spinoff and layoff.