March 9, 2011
Some 100 members of the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) and supporters from the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) picketed the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) today and called on it to order Philippine Airlines (PAL) to start negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The picket coincided with the conciliation conference called by the DOLE after it received PALEA’s notice of strike last Monday.
“The DOLE must uphold the law. PAL has a legal duty to bargain with PALEA as a sole and exclusive agent,” asserted Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and PM vice chair.
“The law does not provide for a plan to layoff union officers and members as a reason not to bargain. The CBA negotiation is distinct and separate from the outsourcing plan,” Rivera said in response to PAL’s declaration that it will only negotiate after the Office of the President (OP) has made a ruling on the dispute regarding outsourcing.
PALEA is accusing PAL of wanting a new moratorium on the CBA. “Whatever is the ruling by the OP on the legality of the outsourcing plan, either the union or management will file a case at the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. This was the declaration both of PAL and PALEA in the last mediation meeting called by Malacanang. This means the outsourcing plan cannot be executed pending a final judicial resolution which may take years considering the justice system. In effect PAL wants another CBA moratorium of indefinite period if it will only negotiate after it gets a go signal on the outsourcing and layoff,” argued Rivera.
“PAL is being greedy for refusing to share the bountiful fruits of production to its workers via a CBA,” Rivera insisted. From a $15.1 million third quarter profit on its latest fiscal year, PAL’s first quarter profit was $31.6 million and second quarter profit was $28.2 million for a total net income of $74.9 million. PAL also paid a loan in the amount of $46.5 million in June 2010.
“A de facto indefinite CBA moratorium is worse than the earlier 10-year suspension,” Rivera declared. In 1998 the PAL-PALEA CBA was put on moratorium as a condition for the reopening of the flag carrier and as requirement for its rehabilitation.
He added that “PAL’s reasoning reveals its intention of using the OP to delay indefinitely the CBA negotiations. The outsourcing and layoff plan is thus not only a scheme for contractualization but also a scam for a CBA moratorium.”
PALEA is calling on its members to prepare for a strike as the instrument of last resort to oblige PAL to observe its duties under the law. “The notice of strike is the first of a series of steps that will lead to a strike at PAL. We will of course observe the 15-day cooling off period and the conciliation meetings to be called by the DOLE,” Rivera announced.