Sunday, March 27, 2011

PALEA calls on members to prepare for nationwide strike as countdown begins

Press Release
March 27, 2011

As the countdown to the lapse of the cooling off period begins, the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) called on its 3,500 members to prepare for the first nationwide strike since the crippling 1998 work stoppage at Philippine Airlines (PAL).

“In the face of PAL’s refusal to bargain without preconditions and of PNoy’s connivance in Lucio Tan’s contractualization scheme, we are forced to go on strike so that our demand for regular jobs and a new collective bargaining agreement are heard,” stated Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).

The ban on a strike at PAL lifts on April 1, seven days after PALEA notified the Department of Labor and Employment of the results of the strike vote. A massive 95% of PALEA members who participated in the strike poll voted yes. This was higher than the 86% yes in the strike vote last December. In Cebu, 153 PALEA members voted yes and a mere 20 voted no with one spoiled ballot for an 87% mandate for a work stoppage from a 65% turnout of voters.

PALEA also lambasted Malacanang for the decision. “The decision is not a compromise but a sellout to Lucio Tan. The decision turned a blind eye to the fact that PAL is expecting $1.6 billion in profit despite oil price hikes. Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa is dreaming in a glass mansion if he thinks that PAL workers will be bought off with higher separation pay,” Rivera elaborated.

“PAL’s intransigence and PNoy’s collaboration has pushed us to the wall and so we call on our 3,500 members in all PAL offices and outlying stations to be ready to stop work anytime after April 1,” Rivera explained.

In preparation for the strike, PALEA and labor groups will launch a series of protest actions next week, including a rally in Cebu. On Friday, a big rally will be held near the airport as a dress rehearsal for the actual strike. The Friday big rally will be nationally coordinated with similar mass actions to be held in the airports of Cebu, Davao, Bacolod and General Santos City. In Manila, hundreds of PALEA members are expected to participate in the early evening march and torch parade from Nichols Gate 2 to the Our Lady of the Airways Parish.

Tomorrow, an indignation rally will be held at Mendiola. Some 200 PALEA members and supporters will assemble at Morayta by 10:00 a.m. On Tuesday, a labor unity press conference will be held by different groups in Quezon City to condemn the decision of the Office of the President to allow outsourcing at PAL and to express solidarity with PALEA.

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