Friday, November 5, 2010

PALEA asks House Labor Committee to probe millions in PAL corporate bonuses

Press Release
November 5, 2010

The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) called on the House Labor Committee to investigate the bonuses received by Philippine Airlines (PAL) executives and board members during the years that the national flag carrier was claiming losses. “PAL’s alleged losses are questionable when it doles out millions in corporate bonuses. Or if indeed PAL is losing then how come it rewards the failure of its executives and officers with indecent benefits? And why is it that workers have to pay for the financial crisis of PAL?” stated Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and Partido ng Manggagawa vice chairperson.

Rivera quoted from documents in PALEA’s possession that reveal bonuses received and estimated to be received by the top senior executive officers in the three years from 2008-2009, 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 at around USD 60,000 (PHP 2.76 M at exchange rate of PHP46 to USD1) per year. This is aside from salaries of around USD 360,000 and other annual compensation of up to USD 90,000.

“For the same years, all the other PAL officers and Board of Directors received no less than USD 25,000 in bonuses on top of salaries of more than USD 150,000 and other annual compensation of up to USD 265,000. These bonuses and other compensation were given out during the years that Labor Secretary Baldoz in her decision cites PAL’s claimed of losses of USD 297.8 M in 2009 and USD 14.3 M in 2010 as basis for retrenchment,” Rivera added.

The House Labor Committee is due to hold a hearing on November 10 on the labor dispute at PAL. PALEA along with other labor groups will attend to push proposals to regulate the “epidemic of contractualization at PAL and other companies.”

Rivera is optimistic that the Labor Committee can oblige PAL management to make a full disclosure of corporate bonuses. “PAL should not hide behind confidentially arguments since it is a public utility that enjoys a government franchise. Corporate bonuses becomes a public issue when PAL plans to layoff thousands on claims that it may go bankrupt if not allowed to contract out work,” Rivera insisted.

PALEA hopes that the Labor Committee will express concern at the mass layoff. “We will welcome support from legislators who will add their voice to the chorus of solidarity with the PAL employees. PALEA thanks Bishop Broderick Pabillo for his condemnation of the Labor Department’s approval of the mass layoff,” Rivera said.

Bishop Pabillo, chair of the National Secretariat for Social Action-Justice and Peace (Nassa), the social action arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), yesterday conveyed disappointment at the policy of the government to favor capitalists rather than ordinary workers.

“President Aquino can still redeem the anti-labor image of his administration by reversing the controversial decision of Labor Secretary Baldoz. If not then P-Noy’s promise of change will be exposed as just a campaign gimmick,” Rivera averred.

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