November 4, 2010
The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) asserted that they are fighting for job security and are not bargaining for higher separation pay. Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and Partido ng Manggagawa vice chairperson, stated that “Job security is priceless and cannot be bought by P1 million worth of separation. Such entitlements may well be above the separation pay mandated by law and our collective bargaining agreement but it nonetheless cannot provide for a decent life to those facing the prospect of long-term unemployment.”
He added that “A regular job that provides decent wages, substantial benefits, security of tenure and the protection of a union should not be an impossible dream. It is simply the best way for PAL to share the fruits of its employees’ labor. It is the kind of best practice a national flag carrier must adopt.”
PALEA countered claims by DOLE and PAL that none of the affected employees will be jobless. “All the employees to be retrenched by PAL may be absorbed by the service providers but only as contractuals. We are not assured of being regular workers in the service providers. In fact since the service providers can lay us off after only a few months, Baldoz ruling provides that PAL guarantee the wages of those affected for one year. As contractuals, we would enjoy no security of tenure and thus can be legally fired at the whim of the service providers. Without a union, we would have no protection and no voice as employees in the service providers,” Rivera explained.
He insisted that “We will be doing exactly the same work at the service providers but for cheaper wages, fewer benefits, no security of tenure and no protection of a union. Where is the justice in that? If this is not contractualization, then what is it?”
PALEA also slammed PAL President Jaime Bautista for “engaging in doublespeak.” “It is PAL workers not management who are being forced to swallow the bitter bill. PAL is faking it when it laments the heavy burden of the additional P500 million in separation pay ordered by Labor Sec. Baldoz. These artificial sweeteners to the poison are simply PAL’s slightly improved offer disguised as Baldoz’ order,” Rivera argued.
PALEA called on its “brothers and sisters in the labor movement and allies in civil society” for solidarity. “The fight for job security at PAL is the fight of all workers. The decision sets a dangerous precedent for it will open the floodgates to massive contractualization in all companies big and small. All Filipinos will be poorer when we become a nation of contractuals,” Rivera averred.