March 23, 2011
The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) announced that the strike vote is proceeding smoothly in all Metro Manila offices and outlying stations of Philippine Airlines (PAL). “We expect an overwhelming vote for a strike from our members who have sacrificed for 13 long years without a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and whose wages, benefits and protection have stagnated as a result,” declared Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa.
Rivera answered PAL president Jaime Bautista’s criticism of the planned strike. “PAL is being hypocritical in criticizing a strike in the midst of evacuation of OFW’s in the Middle East, North Africa and Japan. How can PAL feign concern for the Filipinos losing their jobs abroad when it is planning to retrench 2,600 of its own employees at a time when it is expecting $1.6 billion in yearly profit? How can PAL accuse its workers of insensitivity when it is management that refuses to share the bountiful fruits of production via a CBA?” Rivera retorted.
The results of the strike vote are likely to be known tomorrow evening. Meanwhile PALEA is set to hold a torch parade tomorrow evening to push for the demand for the start of CBA negotiations. “Lucio Tan is the second richest Filipino according to Forbes with $2.3 billion in net worth. He has become wealthier because of the CBA moratorium and outsourcing,” Rivera insisted.
PALEA plans to submit the results of the strike vote to the Department of Labor and Employment on Friday before the conciliation meeting called at 9:00 a.m. On Saturday a labor unity meeting of different groups will gather in Quezon City to express continuing solidarity with PALEA’s fight for regular jobs and the right to bargain.
“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?” argued Rivera.
“We call on PAL to end the labor dispute and prevent a disruption of the evacuation flights. PAL should drop its planned mass layoff, start CBA negotiations immediately and without preconditions,” Rivera asserted.