March 28, 2011
The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) lambasted President Benigno Aquino and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa in an indignation rally today at Mendiola to protest the decision of the Office of the President (OP) allowing the mass layoff of 2,600 employees of Philippine Airlines (PAL). “In the OP decision that he penned, Ochoa exposed who the real boss of this government is. It is Lucio Tan not the Filipino people. This decision ends the myth of PNoy’s ‘Kayo ang boss ko’ slogan,” exclaimed Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).
Some 200 PALEA members and supporters from PM and the anti-contractualization coalition KONTRA assembled at Morayta in Manila this morning and then marched to Mendiola. They brought placards and streamers that say “Lucio Tan: No. 2 richest Filipino, No. 1 workers enemy,” “Sa desisyon ng Malacanang, may bagong mansion ba si Ochoa?” and “Si Lucio Tan ang boss ko—PNoy.”
PALEA has already started the countdown to its first nationwide strike since the crippling 1998 PAL work stoppage. The ban on a strike at PAL ends on April 1, seven days after PALEA submitted the results of the strike vote. An overwhelming 95% of PALEA members who participated in the strike poll voted yes compared to the 86% yes in the strike vote last December.
“In drafting the OP decision as the little president, Ochoa undermined the Constitution, ILO conventions and the PAL-PALEA CBA which all guaranteed the job security and right to bargain of workers. In the decision Ochoa found utterly nothing wrong in PAL’s contractualization scheme and he turned a blind eye to all the evidence on PAL’s profitable operations. We will not be surprised if a second glass mansion is the reason behind this decision,” Rivera insisted.
“In the conflict between the second richest Filipino and thousands of PAL workers, PNoy chose to side with the capitalist rather the workers. For PNoy, it is ok for PAL to retrench 2,600 workers at a time when the company will earn $1.6 billion in annual profit and when thousands of OFW’s are returning home to escape unrest and disaster abroad. What is this government’s employment policy? Demolish all the regular jobs and turn workers into contractuals!” argued Rivera.
Tomorrow 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.
On Friday, a big rally will be held near the airport as a dress rehearsal for the actual strike. Hundreds of PALEA members are expected to participate in the early evening and torch parade from Nichols Gate 2 to the Our Lady of the Airways Parish. 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.