Tuesday, December 7, 2010

PALEA strike vote ongoing as union insists on its legality

Press Release
December 7, 2010

Some 3,700 members of the Philippines Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) started voting on whether to go on strike at 9:00 am today in the different work sites nationwide. PALEA insisted on the legality and propriety of the strike vote in face of statements from the management of Philippine Airlines (PAL) that it will contest the validity of the action.

“In form the strike vote is simply an exercise of the freedom of speech. We want to gauge the sentiments of PALEA members. More than that, the strike vote is also a requirement of the law. So how can it be illegal and inappropriate?” explained Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and Partido ng Manggagawa vice chair.

PALEA announced that at present the balloting is proceeding in orderly and peaceful fashion in all PAL offices in Manila, the airports of Cebu and Davao, and even outlying stations in 14 cities nationwide.

Rivera added that “The strike vote should not be a threat to anybody, not Malacanang, not even PAL. So we are wondering why is PAL management afraid of the strike vote. Don’t they want to know the opinions of their employees? Maybe they are terrified that their lies and propaganda will be exposed by an overwhelming support for the strike.”

He also answered PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna’s argument that the strike vote is illegal because the issues are already pending before the Office of the President (OP): “The issue pending at the OP is PAL’s outsourcing plan. The strike vote stems from a separate case of union busting and individual bargaining by PAL management. That complaint is pending at the National Conciliation and Mediation Board and holding a strike vote in no way violates the Labor Code.”

Last November 5 PALEA filed a notice of strike for alleged unfair labor practices and union busting by PAL stemming from managers’ efforts to convince individual employees to accept the planned mass layoff. “In the November 8 mediation meeting PAL, through its counsel, stated that it will talk to managers to refrain from discussing the issues with PALEA members. That is on record in the minutes of the meeting. Yet managers have kept on convincing PALEA members to accept the gratuity pay that forms of the separation package enumerated in the ruling of Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz,” Rivera insisted.

The final tally of the strike vote is expected after midnight tonight since highly operational PAL work areas like the airport services department, airport ticketing office, in-flight catering department, and the Mactan airport in Cebu where bulk of PALEA members are situated will have their balloting till 12:00 midnight.

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