Thursday, September 30, 2010

Labor party, PAL ground crew to support flight attendants strike

Press Release
September 30, 2010

The labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) and the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA), the ground crew union at the national flag carrier, both expressed support for the planned strike of the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP).

Judy Ann Miranda, secretary general of PM, declared that “FASAP’s brothers and sisters in the labor movements stand as one body and speak with one voice in solidarity with the struggle of the flight attendants. We will mobilize our members, especially women workers, to support their fight.”

Meanwhile Gerry Rivera, PALEA president, stated that “PALEA members will respect any picketline that will be setup by FASAP. We will be with them in the picketlines.”

Yesterday FASAP announced the collapse of mediation talks with the Philippine Airlines (PAL) management in the face of the company’s hardline position on the contentious issue of retirement age. The flight attendants union is asking that the retirement age be raised from 40 to 60 years in order to remove the discrimination suffered by the predominantly female flight crew. FASAP declared that it will go on strike anytime by end of October or early November, the start of the peak season.

PALEA also has a pending notice of strike but the dispute over the planned retrenchment of some 3,000 ground personnel has been assumed by the Secretary of Labor and Employment. In comments that PALEA submitted to Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz last September 14, it called on her to declare the mass layoff as illegal and to find PAL guilty of unfair labor practice.

“The demand of the flight attendants for higher retirement age is a call for gender equality and an issue of job security. They are too young to retire at age 40 but then too old to find a decent job. These are issues of women workers in general. That is why we support the FASAP fight. Women factory workers will link up arms with them in the event of a strike,” insisted Miranda.

Rivera also argued that fight of the PAL ground personnel against contractualization is a struggle for job security. “One common thread that runs through the grievances of PAL employees—whether ground crew, flight crew and even pilots. That is the demand for job security. We all want regular jobs with decent wages, sufficient benefits, good working conditions and the protection of a union that serves as the workers voice in the workplace. Unfortunately secure and protected jobs contradicts Lucio Tan’s new business model of a union-free and non-regular workforce,” he explained.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

PAL ground crew union asks Labor Secretary to void layoff plan

Press Release
September 22, 2010

The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA), the ground crew union of the national flag carrier, called on Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz to declare the planned retrenchment of some 3,000 workers as illegal and to find Philippine Airlines (PAL) guilty of unfair labor practice. The call is contained in the comments that PALEA submitted to Secretary Baldoz last September 14.

“On the basis of documents obtained from PAL, it is crystal clear that the financial position of the company does not warrant the retrenchment of some 3,000 union members, and that the company contracted out the services performed by these regular employees contrary to the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between PAL and PALEA,” argued Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of the Partido ng Manggagawa.

PALEA yesterday celebrated its 64th founding anniversary with a march from the Nichols terminal to the Our Lady of the Airways Parish near the NAIA Terminal 1and then a mass attended by some 200 PAL employees. Score of supporters from PM and other labor groups joined the PALEA anniversary.

Renato Magtubo, PM chair, stated that “The labor movement from its moderate to militant wings stands as one in support of the struggle of PAL employees against contractualization. Should PALEA as one of the oldest and strongest unions get busted then other unions which are younger and weaker will be easy picking for capitalists bent on copying Lucio Tan’s union-free business model.”

Rivera added that “PAL’s audited financial statements for the years 1997 up to 2007, as well as the supplement to the amended and restated rehabilitation plan, show that PAL successfully implemented its rehabilitation plan which belies its claims that its rehabilitation experience is the precursor of the crisis that it now allegedly confronts. After PAL exited from the rehabilitation in 2007, the company’s financial health is revealed by the expansion of its fleet of aircraft. From 35 aircraft in 2008, it increased to 47 aircraft in 2009.”

Rivera also clarified that “The services agreement, dated 15 April 2010, between PAL and Skykitchen Philippines, Inc., and the customer service agreement, dated 16 December 2009, between PAL and ePLDT Ventus Inc., violate the PAL-PALEA CBA by contracting out existing positions and jobs that are presently occupied and performed by the company’s regular employees.”

Skykitchen will takeover the catering department of PAL while ePLDT Ventus will service PAL’s call center operations. PALEA is yet to acquire a copy of the agreement with Skylogistics which will capture PAL’s ground and passenger handling.

The office of the Labor Secretary has assumed jurisdiction of the PAL-PALEA dispute since April 23 in view of a notice of strike filed last January. PALEA has a pending motion of reconsideration to the so-called “midnight decision” allowing PAL to proceed with the layoff that was issued by then Acting Labor Secretary Romeo Lagman last June 15.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

PAL union celebrates 64th anniversary amidst threats

Press Release
September 21, 2010

The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA), the ground crew union at the national flag carrier, celebrated its 64th founding anniversary today amidst the threat of mass layoffs, labor contractualization and union busting. As the highlight of the PALEA anniversary, several hundred PAL employees marched by 8 a.m. from the PAL Gate 2 of the Nichols terminal to the Our Lady of the Airways Parish (OLAP) at the corner of MIA Road and Ninoy Aquino Ave. while chanting slogans in support of the union and against contractualization.

“PALEA is arguably the oldest existing union today in the Philippines. If PALEA gets busted as a result of the planned job outsourcing and mass retrenchment of some 3,000 workers, then it will be the death of an institution,” explained Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) vice chairperson.

Judy Ann Miranda, PM secretary-general added that “If PALEA as one of the oldest and strongest unions gets busted then other unions which are younger and weaker will be easy picking for capitalists bent on copying Lucio Tan’s union-free business model.”

Scores of supporters from PM and other labor groups such as the United Cavite Workers Association, the PLDT union, Makabayan and Alliance of Progressive Labor joined the PALEA march. A mass was held at the OLAP by Fr. Joey Guinto who expressed solidarity with the PALEA demand for job security. After the mass, a program was held that lasted until noon.

PALEA was founded in September 21, 1946 at a time when Philippine Airlines (PAL) was still a public-owned monopoly. The theme of the PALEA anniversary is “Job Security is Union Security.” “For 64 long years, PAL employees enjoyed decent wages and good working conditions thanks to the protection provided by the union. But with the advent of globalization, PAL’s new business model apparently demands that the company be without a union and full of contractuals,” added Rivera.

Last week PALEA submitted to the Labor Secretary its comments to documents obtained from PAL such as the March 31, 2010 financial statement and outsourcing agreements with Sky Kitchen Philippines, Inc. and ePLDT Ventus, Inc. PALEA is arguing that these documents prove that the financial situation of PAL does not warrant the mass retrenchment and that the contracting out of services is in violation of the collective bargaining agreement.

Since April 23 of this year the labor dispute between PAL and PALEA has been assumed by the Labor Secretary and so the union has been prevented from going on strike. A so-called “midnight decision” allowing PAL management to proceed with the layoff was issued by then Acting Labor Secretary Romeo Lagman last June 15. But the decision is under review by the new Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz on the basis of a motion for reconsideration filed by PALEA.

Anti-contractualization group gathers support to defend trade unionism in PAL

21 September 2010

Members of the Koalisyon Laban sa Kontraktwalisasyon (KONTRA) joined the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) in celebrating its 64th anniversary in a mass and rally held at the Our Lady of the Airways Parish at the corner of MIA Road and Ninoy Aquino Ave. in Pasay City this morning.

The PALEA assembly has become a gathering of different labor groups and individuals opposed to the policy of labor contractualization and who pledge to defend the 64 year-old trade union organization in PAL. PALEA was formed in September 21, 1946. September 21 is also the anniversary of the imposition of martial law.

KONTRA leaders vowed to mobilize, as widely as possible, local and international support for the PAL workers’ fight against contractualization, saying that what Marcos failed to achieve in annihilating militant trade unions under martial rule, present day capitalists want it done through contractualization.

Partido ng Manggagawa chair Renato Magtubo, said PAL’s plan to fire more than 2,600 regular ground personnel and replace them with contractuals from outsourced third party service providers is a sinister way of busting the 64 year-old strong and assertive tradition of PALEA union.

Another labor leader Pete Pinlac, former president of PLDT union and who now heads the Manggagawa ng Komunikasyon sa Pilipinas (MKP), said that while the trained and highly skilled members of PALEA were assured to be rehired under new spinoff companies and may assume their former jobs, what is achieved instantly under the outsourcing plan is the emasculation of PALEA and loss of job security of its members.

Edwin Bustillos of the Alliance of Progressive Labor, on the other hand, warned of grave consequences the planned outsourcing in PAL would bring to the entire labor front as the policy may serves as template for organized and systematic way of union-busting.

KONTRA also condemns PAL’s policy of forced retirement for female flight attendants upon reaching the age of 40, saying the policy is not only discriminatory on women but also a clear violation of all existing laws and international conventions on core labor standards.

KONTRA is a labor alliance opposed to the policy of labor contractualization. It is composed of the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), the Archdiocese of Manila Ministry for Labor Concerns (AMLC), Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Manggagawa para sa Inang Bayan (MAKABAYAN), Manggagawa sa Komunikasyon sa Pilipinas (MKP), PALEA, Fortune Tobacco Labor Union (FTLU), Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), Union of Filipino Service Workers (UFSW), and the Urban Missionaries (UM).

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Holiday travels face disturbances as PAL flight crew union files notice of strike

9 September 2010

Travelers might have to bear with major flight disturbances these holiday seasons as Philippine Airline’s flight crew union files notice of strike this morning.

Citing the PAL management’s bad faith in negotiations, the Flight Attendants and Stewards’ Association of the Philippines (FASAP) proceeds with the filing of their Notice of Strike (NOS) before the labor department, making strike imminent anytime these holiday seasons.

FASAP is opposing PAL’s plan to retire its female cabin crews upon reaching the age of 40. The union is also accusing the management of bad faith as their negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement already dragged for three years.

Meanwhile, the labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) warned that labor row in PAL would deteriorate further once the labor department grants the go signal for PAL to embark on a massive contractualization scheme which is being opposed vigorously by the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA), the airline’s ground crew union.

PALEA is opposing the planned massive layoff and outsourcing of PAL’s core functions such as passenger handling, ramp and cargo handling and customer care units to third party service providers. The plan would affect the job security of at least 2,600 employees who are intended to become contractual workers.

Sensing a looming strike in PAL, PM Chair and former labor party-list Rep. Renato Magtubo urges the Aquino government to make an advance crisis management plan on this issue to avoid repeating a major disorder that attended the recent hostage crisis in Manila.

“This is definitely bigger than the recent hostage crisis as it involves thousands of workers facing job loss, discrimination, and deteriorating working conditions in PAL,” explained Magtubo.

The labor leader said the proper way of state intervention on this problem is to prevent PAL from enforcing its illegal, anti-labor and discriminatory policies such as the planned contractualization of its ground employees and the forced early retirement plan for its female cabin crews.

Magtubo further said that FASAP and PALEA have the support of almost all the organized labor groups in the country as well as other advocacy groups that are strongly opposed to contractualization and discrimination in the labor sector.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Labor group supports probe of PAG-IBIG scam

03 September 2010

The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) expressed support for moves in the House of Representatives to have the reported Pag-ibig scam in Pampanga investigated. It called for comprehensive audit which will include all other projects with financing from Pag-ibig during the past administration and previous regimes.

A two-series report that came out in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on the alleged fictitious Pag-ibig beneficiaries in Pampanga prompted Mandaluyong Rep. Neptali Gonzales to file a resolution calling for the investigation of said anomaly. The scam involved billions of Pag-ibig funds paid to Globe Asiatech, a developer that managed those ghost and unqualified beneficiaries, allegedly through ‘special arrangements’ with Pag-ibig officials.

Partido ng Manggagawa chair Renato Magtubo said his group found the scam revolting for ordinary workers, especially those in the low-income level who find housing loans hard to avail due to the Fund’s stringent requirements.

“It’s really revolting to know that billions of our funds went to the hands of unscrupulous developers while millions of our lowly-paid workers remain homeless or painstakingly footing their delinquent accounts,” said Magtubo.

Pag-ibig premiums are automatically deducted from workers’ salaries earning at least P4,500.00 per month. The Fund charges as for as low as 6% interest rates for low cost housing to as high as 10% to 12% for loans amounting to P1-million to P2 million.

“Pag-ibig officials were assigned to manage our fund judiciously and wisely to secure the immediate and long-term interest of its members. To mess with it, in connivance with crook developers, is no doubt a high crime that warrants tough justice,” insisted Magtubo.

The labor leader wanted a thorough investigation of the said anomaly and demanded full accountability for those responsible for the scam.

The labor group likewise called on lawmakers to expand the probe to include the Social Security System (SSS) and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) that are also hounded by reports of anomalous transactions.