August 12, 2010
The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA), the ground crew union at Philippine Airlines (PAL), met management in a mediation meeting this afternoon at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) but announced that it is prepared to do everything to stop the disputed contracting out of jobs. “Our job is our life and if necessary we will strike to defend our livelihood for the sake of our families,” declared Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) vice chairperson.
PALEA’s readiness to strike intensifies the labor row at PAL with none of the resigned pilots returning and the flight attendants union threatening to stop work unless the deadlock in collective bargaining negotiations is resolved. PAL’s ongoing labor dispute with its ground crew arose out of the planned contracting out of jobs that will lead to the layoff of some 3,000 employees. Workers in airport services, inflight catering and ticketing reservations will be retrenched and then rehired as contractuals in service providers also owned by Lucio Tan to do the same job for less pay and no job security.
“PAL 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. We are asking the government of P-Noy through Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz to review the policy on contractualization and strengthen protection for job security or else it faces a wave of labor unrest,” explained Renato Magtubo, PM chairperson.
PM members joined PALEA and other labor groups in a picket today to ask the DOLE to tighten regulations and plug loopholes that have allowed employers to massively supplant regular work with contractual labor. “In factories, shops and offices contractual workers are working side-by-side with regular employees in doing the same job for less pay, no benefits and without security off tenure. Contractualization at PAL is simply the tip of the iceberg. 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,” argued Magtubo.
The mediation meeting today arose out of PALEA’s pending motion for reconsideration of the former Acting Labor Secretary Romeo Lagman’s “midnight decision” that affirmed PAL management’s prerogative to contract out jobs of ground crew. “We welcome the preference of Secretary Baldoz to mediate the dispute on job contracting in PAL unlike Lagman who unilaterally issued a midnight decision favoring management. But even as we negotiate in good faith we have to be prepared for all eventualities including the necessity to strike if the planned layoff pushes through,” Rivera stated.