Monday, October 11, 2010

PAL union submits CBA proposal after 12-year moratorium

The Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA), the union of ground personnel in the Philippine Airlines (PAL), submitted yesterday its proposal for a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) for the first time after a moratorium that started in 1998. “This is a momentous event because for more than 10 years there have been no negotiations for the improvement of workers benefits,” stated Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and concurrent vice chairperson of Partido ng Manggagawa.

The PAL-PALEA CBA was put on moratorium for 10 years in the wake of the bitter 1998 labor dispute that saw a pilots’ and ground crew strike, and the closure of the national flag carrier. The moratorium has been extended for two more years under the term of previous union leaderships.

The present PALEA leadership under Rivera, which was elected last February, submitted a proposal to cover the years 2008 to 2013. Rivera explained that “We believe that the CBA should retroact to 2008 since the CBA moratorium was only for 10 years not 12.”

The CBA proposal was received by no less than PAL President and COO Jaime Bautista yesterday at 11:30 a.m. “We expect management to respond to our proposal and negotiate in good faith,” Rivera insisted.

Among the salient points of the CBA proposal is the updating and upgrading of the pay scale. “Too much wage distortion has been done to the pay scale so that there exists not only a severe contraction but to a certain extent an elimination of the quantitative differences between the job grades. We now aim to correct these distortions,” Rivera argued.

The proposal retains but revises the provision of the old CBA prohibiting contracting out of existing positions, jobs, divisions and departments presently occupied by present or future regular employees. The proposal improves on the old by explicitly barring outsourcing. Rivera added that “This particular provision protects job security and union representation. The planned mass layoff of some 3,000 PAL workers is illegal because of this CBA provision.”

The CBA proposal also contains provisions that enhance the retirement scheme. “This is our way of saluting, recognizing and giving tribute to our loyal PAL workers and union members,” Rivera ended.

PAL is concurrently negotiating a CBA with its flight crew. The negotiations have however been deadlocked over disputes of retirement age and gender discrimination. The dispute has been assumed by Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz. The PAL-PALEA row over the mass layoff has similarly been assumed.

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