March 8, 2011
The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) accused Philippine Airlines (PAL) of wanting a new moratorium on the collective bargaining agreement (CBA). This was PALEA’s response to PAL’s argument that it will only start CBA negotiations after a decision on its planned outsourcing has been rendered by the Office of the President (OP).
“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. The outsourcing plan then 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 Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).
“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 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 insisting that the CBA negotiation is distinct and separate from the outsourcing plan. “The law does not provide for a plan to layoff union officers and members as a legitimate reason not to bargain. An employer has a legal duty to bargain with a certified sole and exclusive agent such as PALEA,” Rivera elaborated.
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 Department of Labor and Employment,” Rivera announced.
The militant PM meanwhile declared its support for PALEA’s fight for a new CBA and its preparation for a strike. “The labor movement stands united behind PALEA’s struggle not just for security of tenure but the right to collective bargaining. It is in the interest of all workers that PAL employees enjoy regular jobs and the protection of a CBA,” stated Renato Magtubo, PM chair.