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.