March 24, 2011
The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) held a torch parade today as initial results in the strike poll reveal a tremendous vote for yes. Only the ballots of PALEA members in the Metro Manila offices of Philippines Airlines have been counted and show 96% votes of for a strike and a mere 3% voted against. In the last strike vote conducted last December, some 86% voted yes. In yesterday’s voting, 1996 PALEA members in Metro Manila participated out of some 2987 total members.
“The Metro Manila votes of PALEA members are a clear trend that we believe will be repeated in the outlying stations once the ballots have been counted. This is a herald of the determination of PAL workers to fight for their regular jobs and right to bargain. We hope that PAL management heeds this call instead of dismissing it as baseless,” stated Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa.
The strike vote results were mirrored in the demands aired in the torch parade by several hundred PAL employees. They assembled at the PAL Nichols gate 2 at 5:30 p.m. and then marched to the Our Lady of the Airways Parish for short program and prayer rally. “PAL workers are also voting by their feet for a strike and against the 13-year long suspension of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA),” insisted Rivera.
“The strike vote is not baseless as PAL claims. Instead it is management’s position that the CBA exclude any provisions on outsourcing that is baseless. The law provides that a CBA can cover any and all issues affecting the terms and conditions of employment,” Rivera argued.
PALEA expects to finish counting the rest of the ballots from the outlying stations all over the country tonight. The strike vote results will be submitted tomorrow at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in time for the conciliation meeting set at the Intramuros DOLE office. Meanwhile on Saturday afternoon a labor unity meeting will be convened at a restaurant in Quezon City where the whole spectrum of the workers movement will gather in support of PALEA’s fight.
Rivera furthered that “Promises are unfortunately easy to make and break especially for PAL. Instead of promising to begin negotiations within two weeks, we suggest that PAL actually do so by submitting its counter-proposal to our CBA proposal that management has sat on for five months already. PAL must start negotiations without any preconditions. How can PAL negotiate in good faith when it already wants to remove provisions in the coverage of the CBA even before it has opened the bargaining process?”