Wednesday, April 20, 2011

PAL employees hold Kalbaryo ng PALEA at Baclaran

Press Release
April 20, 2011

Some 100 Philippine Airlines (PAL) employees held a “Kalbaryo ng PALEA” at the Baclaran Church this morning in a dramatic expression of the problems faced by workers. The members of the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) reenacted the complete Stations of the Cross but adapted the content in the context of the PAL workers struggle against contractualization. “The threat of mass layoff and labor contractualization are heavy crosses for PAL employees to bear,” exclaimed Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).

Rivera meanwhile slammed the Employers Confederation of the Philippines for its position that “collective bargaining is the better option to a wage hike.” He explained that “This is a pleasant sounding doublespeak. In reality, employers oppose with all their might workers forming unions and bargaining for contracts, similar to PAL’s intransigent refusal to open negotiations and bust PALEA.”

Some PALEA members carried makeshift crosses while being whipped by other protesters wearing masks of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz and former Acting Labor Secretary Romeo Lagman. Another protester wearing a mask of Lucio Tan was kicking the PAL employees carrying crosses. In another scene, a protester in the character of President Benigno Aquino put crowns of thorns on the heads of the PAL employees.

At 12:00 noon the PALEA members joined the commemoration of the desaparecidos that is traditional sponsored by the group Families of the Involuntary Disappeared. PALEA has been seeking the solidarity of sectors and groups for its planned strike against PAL and has won the support of Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo and human rights NGO’s.

Today’s Kalbaryo protest is PALEA’s own although it has participated since Monday in similar mass actions by other labor groups. A broad unity of labor groups has been supporting PALEA’s fight for regular jobs and bargaining rights.

The Kalbaryo is part of series of buildup activities for the May 1 mobilization to be led by PM, PALEA and other labor groups at Mendiola. At 9:00 a.m. on May 1, PM and PALEA will assemble at Mehan Garden in Manila then march to Mendiola for a 11:00 a.m. mass to be celebrated by Bishop Pabillo. PM will also lead Labor Day protests in Cebu City, Davao City, Bacolod City, Iloilo City, General Santos City, Iligan City and Dipolog City. Thousands of workers are expected to participate in the Labor Day protest.

On April 27, hundreds of PALEA members will picket the National Labor Relations Commission on the occasion of the first hearing on the labor dispute. The day also marks the first anniversary of the termination notices sent by Philippine Airlines management to some 2,600 workers. Also on April 29, PALEA will lead a workers caravan that will go around the major industrial estates and economic zones in Cavite.

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