October 31, 2010
The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA), the ground crew union at the national flag carrier, slammed the final decision of Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz to allow the planned mass layoff of some 3,000 employees. Gerry Rivera, president of PALEA and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), stated that “The Department of Labor and Employment’s go signal for the retrenchment of half of the workforce means the death of job security at Philippine Airlines.”
Last Friday Labor Sec. Baldoz denied PALEA’s motion for reconsideration and affirmed the previous order by then Acting Labor Sec. Romeo Lagman. Both Baldoz and Lagman found the planned mass layoff to be a legitimate exercise of “management prerogative.”
Rivera announced that the union intends to appeal the decision at the Court of Appeals. Tomorrow PALEA together with PM will hold a mass action at the DoLE main office in Intramuros to denounce the order of Baldoz. The protesters plan to bring a mock coffin with the message “RIP PAL Workers” and an effigy of Baldoz as the mythical “Kamatayan.”
Rivera explained that Baldoz’ decision entirely disregarded the unions’ arguments and merely reiterated PAL ’s position that it must outsource work to service providers in order to be financially viable. “The order is not a win-win solution that balances the interest of workers for job security and management for financial viability. Instead it is simply management’s slightly improved offer disguised as DoLE’s decision,” he insisted. Baldoz’ order, compared to Lagman’s, provides for a gratuity of P50,000 per employee and 125% separation pay instead of 100%.
Rivera added that “Baldoz’ order means the green light for contractualization at PAL via a retrench-rehire scheme. PAL will retrench 3,000 regular unionized workers who will be rehired as contractuals by service providers that are partly owned by Lucio Tan. The loss of 3,000 regular jobs cannot be compensated by the creation of 3,000 new contractual positions. Baldoz’ decision released on the eve of All Souls’ Day is symbolic for it will conjure up 3,000 zombie positions which will have cheaper wages, less benefits, no security of tenure and no protection by a union.”
PALEA also declared that the mass action tomorrow is just the start of a series of protests by PAL employees and their supporters from the labor movement. An assumption of jurisdiction order from DoLE had prevented PALEA from holding mass actions including a strike since April this year. A similar assumption order was imposed on the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines while a decision remains pending at the office of Sec. Baldoz regarding the separate dispute about retirement age and other issues.