November 15, 2010
The Philippines Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) attended the meeting called this morning by Malacanang at the office of the Executive Secretary and insisted that the planned mass layoff is not the solution to the financial problems of Philippine Airlines (PAL).
“We also reiterated our call, as stated in our formal appeal to President Benigno Aquino last Friday, for him to suspend the implementation of the decision by Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz. He can use the powers vested in Article 263 (g) of the Labor Code which states that the President can intervene at any time and assume jurisdiction over any labor dispute in order to settle it. That power has usually been used to stop workers from holding a strike. We are challenging P-Noy to employ it to stop management’s planned mass layoff,” explained Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and Partido ng Manggagawa vice chairperson.
PALEA also clarified that they plan to push through with the strike vote this week despite the ongoing talks between and PAL and PALEA. “The strike vote is part of the process provided for the law towards holding a strike. We are merely complying with the legal requirements. We are thus calling on PALEA members to express their sentiments through the strike vote. We will invite the Department of Labor and Employment to observe the holding of the strike vote,” Rivera stated.
Meanwhile in a meeting last Friday the various labor groups that have come together to support PALEA has decided to call for a National Day of Action on November 25. The theme of the nationwide activities is “No to Contractual Employment! Fight for Regular Jobs!” Thousands of workers from the various labor groups are expected to participate in the main rally in Metro Manila and in other key cities. A thousand restive workers of Fortune Tobacco, also owned by PAL boss Lucio Tan, plan to attend since their job security is threatened by the merger with Philip Morris that created the joint venture company Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corporation (PMFTC) last February.
Rivera insisted that “PAL employees should not pay for PAL’s financial crisis since we did not cause it. Moreover the retrenchment will reduce PAL’s losses by an insignificant 7%. The real reason for the mass layoff is not to save PAL but to bust the union and replace regular jobs with contractual workers.”
PALEA likewise raised the demand for Malacanang to initiate efforts towards regulating the widespread practice of contractualization through both executive action and legislative measures. “Despite the denial of Sec. Baldoz that her decision is not a go signal for capitalists to outsource work, the ruling can and will be used by employers by similarly arguing that management prerogative and financial distress allows them to replace regular jobs with contractual employment,” argued Rivera.