July 21, 2010
Some 300 members of the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) held a pre-SONA rally this morning at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). The PAL workers called on the new Secretary of Labor and Employment, Rosalinda Baldoz, to overturn the “midnight decision” by then Acting Labor Secretary Romeo Lagman that found the illegal contracting out of jobs planned by Philippine Airlines to be “a valid exercise of management prerogative.”
“Lagman’s midnight decision was erroneous on both substantive and procedural grounds. Now that the ball is in her court, we call on Sec. Baldoz to exercise due process and right judgment in reversing the former Acting Secretary’s midnight decision,” stated Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) vice-chairperson.
The rally today was the first of several activities planned by PALEA and PM as buildup to the SONA on Monday. Renato Magtubo, PM chairperson, explained that “We are asking President Aquino to make concrete his promise that democracy should work for all by certifying a set of pro-labor reform bills as urgent in his SONA. Among these should be reforms to enhance job security and stop the proliferation of contractualization schemes.”
The PAL employees started the pre-SONA protest with a motorcade from the PALEA office in Tambo, Paranaque City. A delegation of supporters from PM joined the rally at DOLE.
PALEA filed a motion for reconsideration of the Lagman order and also petitioned President Noynoy Aquino for the new government to review the midnight decision. Among the 22-point “marching orders” given by President Aquino to Sec. Baldoz in the first cabinet meeting last June 30 was to re-evaluate the midnight decision given the importance of the dispute as a “litmus test” of the new government’s handling of labor-management relations.
Meanwhile the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), of which PALEA is an affiliate, sent a letter of concern to President Aquino regarding the labor dispute at PAL. In a letter dated July 16 and sent by email, ITF General Secretary David Cockroft urged the government to “act swiftly and decisively to facilitate an acceptable resolution to the intervene the PAL-PALEA row.”
The ITF letter further argued that “The dispute has arisen due to the apparent intention of the PAL management to implement mass dismissals and to contract out jobs being performed by regular employees. The ITF understands that these actions would be in breach of provisions against labor contracting and on job security contained within the company’s collective bargaining agreement. Apart from the huge social impact that such actions would have on the workers and their families, this move by the PAL management is also perceived as a union-busting measure given the fact that these employees are all PALEA members and include the union’s officers.”
The ITF represents more than 4.6 million transport workers in 759 unions across 155 countries, including 269 aviation unions with some 650,000 members.