Friday, May 7, 2010

Workers rally in support of PAL employees as labor dispute is heard by DOLE

Press Release
May 7, 2010

More than a hundred workers from different groups such as the labor party-list Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), the union of PLDT employees and the labor group Makabayan mobilized in support of the Philippine Airlines (PAL) workers fight against spinoff and contractualization. The solidarity rally was held as the Office of the Labor Secretary (Osec) called the PAL union and management to a mediation meeting this morning.

Renato Magtubo, PM chairperson, declared that “We call on the Office of the Labor Secretary make a decision on the PAL dispute that defends security of tenure, promotes regular jobs, respects labor rights and advances workers welfare as explicitly provided for in the Labor Code and the Philippine Constitution.”

The workers also expressed concern that the labor dispute might affect the conduct of the national elections if the conflict remains unresolved. The mediation meeting today called by the Osec is already the second attempt to seek a resolution to the dispute. The first mediation meeting last April 30 ended inconclusively. The OSec assumed jurisdiction (AJ) of the labor dispute based on an order dated April 23, 2010.

The protesters held placards that slammed the planned spinoff of PAL’s airport services, inflight catering and ticketing reservations that will lead to the mass layoff of some 3,000 workers. They slammed the spinoff as the “ugly face of contractualization in PAL.”

The solidarity mobilization came as a result of an appeal by the PAL Employees Association (PALEA) for support. Gerry Rivera, PALEA president, said that “We appeal to our brothers and sisters to set aside organizational, political and ideological divides for working class unity around an issue that concerns all workers. We further ask that solidarity actions be initiated as a continuation of protest actions that PALEA has started but is now enjoined from continuing because of the AJ order.”

“The fight of PAL employees against mass layoffs and labor contractualization is the fight of all Filipino workers. Labor unity and labor solidarity will be a key factor in the victory of the PAL employees’ struggle,” Magtubo.

Givera insisted that “PAL employees will be laid off only to be rehired for the same work in new companies and under new contracts. Regular workers will thus be replaced by contractual labor whose wages are cheaper, benefits are fewer and security of tenure is non-existent. Workers will be sacrificed to maintain the profits of Lucio Tan, already the second richest man in the country.”

“Contractualization is a scourge that has ravaged the working class and the labor movement. The livelihood and lives of workers are destroyed. Unions are busted. Organizing is made so difficult if not impossible. Labor federations and centers are severely weakened,” Magtubo explained. ###

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