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.

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