August 2, 2010
In the face of the PAL pilots’ issue, the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) asked the Aquino government to lift the six-month prior notice on the migration of workers who are categorized as mission-critical skills. Renato Magtubo, PM chairperson, said that “Banning the migration of skilled workers by six months disadvantages labor and favors capital. There is an opportunity cost on workers which government and employers cannot possibly repay. After the six month ban, there is no assurance that offers still exist for skilled workers who just dream of a better life for their families. If employers want to retain skilled workers in the country then they must match the good pay, regular status and better working conditions offered abroad.”
The labor group also called on both the government and PAL not to punish the 25 pilots who have resigned by filing criminal and administrative charges. “It behooves the Aquino government, even PAL management, to think of the root causes and review policies that discriminate against labor. Both government and PAL face a full-scale war with PAL pilots, flight attendants and ground crew if an iron-fist policy is used on labor,” Magtubo argued.
PAL is faced with an ongoing labor dispute with its ground crew over the planned contracting out of jobs that will lead to the layoff of some 3,000 employees and the threat of a strike by flight attendants over a deadlock in collective bargaining negotiations. Gerry Rivera, PM vice-chairperson and president of the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA), revealed that they are working to unite the ground crew, flight attendants and PAL pilots to defend job security and working conditions at the country’s biggest domestic and international carrier.
Rivera explained that “The abrupt resignation by the PAL pilots is rooted in management’s drive to make all of its employees contractual instead of regular. The pilots resigned not simply because they were poached by other airlines with offers of better pay. The pilots were enticed by better working conditions which assure them of security of tenure and good benefits unlike their status as contractuals in PAL.”
PALEA is scheduled to attend a conciliation meeting called by the Labor Department on August 12. “We welcome the preference of Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz to mediate the dispute on job contracting in PAL unlike the former Acting Labor Secretary Romeo Lagman who unilaterally issued a midnight decision favoring management,” Rivera stated.
He added that “The Airline Pilots Association of the Philippines was busted in 1998 so the pilots’ discontent was expressed in individual resignation instead of collective protest. But their deteriorating working conditions are no different from that experienced by flight attendants and ground crew.”