April 12, 2011
Saying they need to exhaust all administrative measures available to them, members of the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) went back to Malacanang Tuesday to seek reconsideration of the March 25 ruling by the Office of the President.
“We want the President to reconsider and state clear his stand in upholding the constitutional rights of workers to security of tenure and collective bargaining,” declared Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).
The March 25 OP decision allowed PAL owner and business tycoon Lucio Tan to proceed with his plan to layoff some 2,600 regular employees in the airport services, in-flight catering and call center reservations, and transfer them as contractuals in service providers.
PALEA considered the decision to be flawed as it permits the mass layoff at a time when PAL is expecting $1.6 billion in annual profit. “Worst, it lets PAL reward the sacrifice of the 12-year long suspension of the PALEA CBA with the termination of workers whose wages, benefits and protection have already stagnated in that period,” lamented Rivera.
Rivera stated further that because of its flawed affirmation of Secretary Baldoz’s earlier decision, President Aquino’s March 25 ruling drew strong indignations not only from PALEA and the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP) but also from the whole spectrum of the labor movement in the country and the international labor organizations as well.
The Catholic Church, through Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, also has publicly declared its all out support for PALEA’s impending strike against mass layoff and contractualization.
“Wala siyang kakampi dito kundi si Lucio Tan. Thus, through our motion for reconsideration, P-Noy has the second chance to show the labor movement where he really stands – sa baliko at tusong landas ba ni Lucio Tan, o sa makatarungang landas ni Juan Manggagawa?,” stated Rivera.
PALEA was accompanied by its lawyers Atty. Joeven Dellosa and Atty. Marlon Manuel in the filing its MR to Malacanang. In Mendiola, labor groups supporting PALEA such as PM and the anti-contractualization group Koalisyon Laban sa Kontraktualisasyon or KONTRA held an indignation rally in support of the embattled PAL union.
On Holy Week, the groups will hold a “Kalbaryo ng Manggagawa” protest at the airport to highlight the plight of Filipino workers, especially contractual employees and the unemployed.
PALEA and the broad labor would also bring the PAL case before the International Labor Organization (ILO).
PM chair and former partylist representative Renato Magtubo pointed out that instead of fostering industrial peace, the OP decision brought PAL to the brink of a paralyzing strike last April 1.
“It has not weakened PALEA’s resolve to fight but rather strengthened their determination to even defy the Labor Secretary’s order enjoining a strike,” said Magtubo.
Magtubo insisted that the OP decision sends the wrong message to the workers that P-Noy’s policy is to condone labor contractualization and sacrifice workers rights at the altar of management prerogative.