November 2, 2010
The labor row at Philippine Airlines (PAL) continues as some 300 PAL employees and supporters from various labor groups marched from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) office in Intramuros to the historic Mendiola Bridge to protest the ruling allowing the mass layoff of 2,600 workers of the national flag carrier.
“Nasaan ang pagbabago sa gobyerno ni P-Noy? The Halloween order of Labor Secretary Baldoz merely reiterated the midnight decision of former Acting Labor Sec. Romeo Lagman that mass layoff is management prerogative. So is there any difference in the labor policy of Aquino and Arroyo?” stated Gerry Rivera, president of the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) and vice chairperson of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).
The protesters shared a lunch of “kanin at tuyo” to signify the dismal holidays that PAL workers face. The mobilization is the second in a series of protest actions led by PALEA in as many days. Yesterday dozens of PALEA members erected a makeshift cemetery at the DOLE office to symbolize the “death of job security at PAL.” Rivera revealed that even bigger protests are on the drawing board.
“Sec. Baldoz once said that the PAL-PALEA dispute is a litmus test of labor relations under the P-Noy government. With her order permitting mass layoff and labor contractualization, then we can only expect anti-labor decisions and policies from this government,” argued Rivera.
“Lumihis na si P-Noy sa tuwid na landas. Wala dapat boss na kontraktwal. Wala dapat boss na busabos,” insisted Judy Ann Miranda, PM secretary-general. She added that “We are all PAL workers,” as PM called on labor groups and civil society organizations to rally round the fight of PALEA for job security and union rights.
Rivera countered Baldoz’ contention that nobody will be unemployed since all the 2,600 to be retrenched will be rehired by the service providers. “The retrench then rehire scheme is a scam to implement contractualization. Baldoz cannot and did not promise job security in the service providers. As contractuals, we will have no security of tenure. We can be laid off at the whim of the service providers. We will have no union to protect us as employees in the service providers,” he explained.
Miranda questioned PAL and DOLE’s common position that the national flag carrier will close down if the mass layoff is not permitted. “This blackmail and black propaganda aims to fool workers into accepting the bitter pill of retrenchment. The precedent of PAL’s maintenance and engineering department is illuminating. This revenue generating department was outsourced to Lufthansa Technik Philippines which is partly-owned by Lucio Tan. PAL may be bleeding but the second richest Filipino keeps on getting wealthier,” she insisted.