January 19, 2011
The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) criticized the management of Philippine Airlines for sending a regrets letter to Rep. Eulogio Magsaysay. “PAL's regrets letter is regrettable for it conveys the wrong message that it is company policy to ignore the abusive behavior and sexist remarks of Magsaysay,” asserted Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and Partido ng Manggagawa vice chair.
PALEA is demanding from PAL the drafting of a manual of operations for handling customer relations that safeguards the rights of its workers together with specifying the responsibilities of employees to customers. “The saying ‘the customer is not always right’ is wrong. When customers purchase goods or services, they did not buy the dignity of employees serving them. There must be protection for frontline service employees of PAL. The global union International Transport Workers Federation recommends such a manual of operations,” explained Rivera.
“If the regrets letter were a pro forma response from PAL from an unsatisfied customer then it is understandable. But that is not the case here. The regrets letter turns a blind eye to the facts of the case. First, the incident report filed by Sarah Bonnin-Ocampo’s supervisor corroborating her allegations against Magsaysay. And second, Magsaysay’s own admission of guilt and offer of apology,” Rivera argued.
He added that “The regrets letter reveals that PAL is concerned only with its profits and not the welfare of its employees. Workers are treated as disposable rags that are without dignity and can be outsourced. If Ocampo was not a union member protected by a collective bargaining agreement and instead were a contractual employee in a service provider, she would have been laid off by now as Magsaysay had threatened her.”
Meanwhile the labor group PM is appealing to the House and Senate Labor Committees to conduct hearings in aid of legislation to protect service workers from abuse and indignities at the workplace. Judy Ann Miranda, PM secretary-general declared that “Sarah’s fight for justice is a struggle for workers dignity. In the so-called new economy dominated by service workers such as call center agents, there must be policies to safeguard employees from ill-treatment and humiliation by customers.”
PALEA also warned PAL against any form of workplace discrimination on Ocampo arising from her pursuit of the case. “It is bad enough that PAL fails to protect its employees from abuse but it is worse if management were to harass Ocampo due to what it perceives a bad press on the company,” Rivera cautioned.