August 17, 2010
President. PAL Employees’ Association (PALEA)
Vice Chairperson, Partido ng Manggagawa (PM)
The scourge of labor contractualization lies at the root of the labor dispute at Philippine Airlines. The contracting out of jobs of the ground personnel will lead to the massive layoff of some 3,000 PAL employees. Regular employees will be retired from PAL only to be rehired as contractual workers in companies owned by Lucio Tan’s Kamag-anak Inc. These companies will be money-earning service providers to PAL and so we end up doing the same work as before but for cheaper pay, less benefits and no security of tenure.
Job security is also the demand of the PAL pilots and flight crew. Thus PAL management is faced with a three-front war with its airline pilots, flight crew and ground personnel because of its drive to demolish job security, replace regular employees with contractual workers and bust the remaining unions in the company.
The public should know the truth. PAL keeps on repeating the lie that it is losing money and so the workers will have to be the burden of its rehabilitation. Of course PAL will be in the red because the sources of revenues, even its assets, have been transferred to sister companies like MacroAsia and Air Philippines. PAL’s maintenance and engineering department was shifted to MacroAsia and so expenses are charged to the former but the income is reflected in the latter. PAL ground personnel in the outlying stations services Air Philippines so the costs are borne by the former but latter keeps the savings.
The Department of Labor and Employment has assumed jurisdiction (AJ) of the PAL labor dispute and this has enjoined PALEA from proceeding with a strike. The AJ should also stop management from making any actions that will exacerbate the dispute. However in violation of the AJ, PAL is shifting work from its in house call reservations center to an outside contractor. Reservations calls are being rerouted to ePLDT Ventus while dropped calls are answered by PAL’s call center department. Thus regular jobs are being transferred to an outside contractor and only excess work is maintained in PAL.
Contractualization at PAL is just the tip of the iceberg. In factories, shops, offices and malls contractual workers are working side-by-side with regular employees in doing the same job for lesser pay and worse working conditions. We demand that President Aquino make concrete his promise that democracy should work for all by instituting reforms to enhance job security and stop contractualization schemes. We call for a stop to the race to the bottom in working conditions and labor standards. Ang kontraktwalisasyon ay baluktot na landas.
In the conciliation meeting between PAL and PALEA last Thursday, management moved for the Labor Secretary to decide on the legality of the planned layoff. On the other hand PALEA is asking that mediation continue until an agreement acceptable to both sides is forged.
But even as we negotiate in good faith we have to be prepared for all eventualities including the necessity of a strike if the planned layoff pushes through. Thus we are appealing for support and understanding from fellow workers, institutions such as the Church and the broad public. Our job is our life and if necessary we will strike to defend our livelihood for the sake of our families.