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.