April 4, 2011
The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) shifts gear as it troops to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) main office for a protest against the order of Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz enjoining the planned massive strike at Philippine Airlines. “The strike may have been postponed but protests continue with today’s picket at the DOLE as a start. In the coming days we will be holding a workers caravan together with big labor groups to call for a stop to contractualization. These mass actions will serve as the run up to the coming Labor Day celebration,” said Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).
Some 100 PALEA and PM members picketed the DOLE main office in Intramuros at 10:30 a.m. A few of the protesters had tapes on their mouth and their hands were bound to symbolize the suppression of the right to strike. The group also burned a caricature of PAL owner Lucio Tan who was visualized as the devil satan. The protesters also tore copies of the Baldoz order against the PALEA strike.
“Baldoz is an anti-labor secretary. It is strike two for her as far as PAL workers are concerned. First, her order allowed the planned outsourcing and layoff of some 2,600 workers. Now, a second order preventing PAL workers from holding a strike against PAL’s unfair labor practice. This is DOLE’s double standard: capitalists have the freedom to abuse their employees under the cover of management prerogative but the workers are denied the right to defend themselves by assumption and jurisdiction orders,” Rivera explained.
PALEA also lambasted deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte for threatening PAL workers with an illegal strike should they defy the Baldoz order. “We thank Valte for again proving that Malacanang is collaborating with Lucio Tan. PAL management and Malacanang officials are singing in chorus to warn PALEA members with punishment should we defy the Baldoz order. This apparently is the labor policy of PNoy: A soft handshake to Lucio Tan for terminating 2,600 workers but a hard stick for workers trying to defend their rights,” Rivera insisted.
On April 6, PALEA and its supporters will meet with Catholic Bishop Broderick Pabillo to map out coordinated moves. The groups are planning a series of mass actions including a big protest on May 1. The labor unity network seek to galvanize public opinion in support of PALEA’s campaign against contractualization. Among the planned activities are workers assemblies, advocates fora and a labor caravan around industrial areas and ecozones.
PALEA also revealed that the case they plan to file with the International Labor Organization against government’s suppression of the conventions on the right to self-organization and collective bargaining, and the complaint will be stronger with the latest DOLE order as further evidence.