August 1, 2010
The militant group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) and the ground crew union Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) called on the management of Philippine Airlines (PAL) not to file cases against the pilots who abruptly resigned. Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and PM vice-chairperson, urged PAL to “Think twice before swinging the Damocles sword on the heads of the pilots lest the company face a three-front war against all of its employees.”
PAL is faced with an ongoing labor dispute with its ground crew over the planned contracting out of jobs that will affect some 3,000 employees and the threat of a strike by flight attendants over a deadlock in collective bargaining negotiations. Renato Magtubo, PM chairperson challenged the ground crew, flight attendants and airline pilots to unite to defend job security and working conditions at the country’s biggest domestic and international carrier.
Rivera explained that “The pilots resigned not simply because they were poached by other airlines with offers of better pay as PAL’s propaganda releases state. The pilots were enticed by better conditions which assure them of security of tenure and good benefits unlike their status as contractuals in PAL. The impromptu resignation by a dozen PAL pilots is the damaging results of management’s drive to make all of its employees contractual instead of regular.”
“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. All for one, one for all in the fight against labor contractualization and union busting by PAL,” Rivera added.
Meanwhile Magtubo appealed to the Aquino government to review the policy prohibiting the migration of workers classified as mission-critical skills. “Prohibiting the migration of skilled workers by six months is unduly discriminatory on labor and one-sidedly favors capital. After the six month ban, there is no assurance that the offers remain for these skilled workers who just want a better life for their families. If capitalists want to retain skilled workers in the country then they must match the good pay, regular jobs and better working conditions offered abroad.”
PM reiterated its support for the fight of PALEA and the flight attendants. 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 labor dispute unlike the former Acting Labor Secretary Romeo Lagman who unilaterally issued a midnight decision favoring PAL management,” Rivera stated.