June 13, 2011
Dark clouds are gathering over the airport as another dispute over a temporary outsourcing arrangement threatens the tense calm between the management of Philippine Airlines (PAL) and the union Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA). In a sign of renewed stormy labor relations, PALEA held a motorcade this afternoon to protest PAL’s plan to hire on June 16 contractual workers from Lucio Tan-owned service provider MacroAsia.
“We are ready to defend our jobs and the union if PAL does not back down from deploying contractual workers on Thursday. We call on PALEA members to remain vigilant until there is a firm commitment from PAL for direct hiring instead of temporary outsourcing,” stated Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and Partido ng Manggagawa vice chair. As of today no agreement has been reached by management and the union on the issue.
PALEA members assembled by 2:30 p.m. at their headquarters in
for the protest action. The motorcade then proceeded to PAL’s In-Flight Center near the Centennial Terminal and then on to the Nichols gate where other company offices are located. Paranaque
The national flag carrier is facing an acute manpower shortage for passenger handling due to the exodus of customer service agents who have sought greener pastures abroad. PAL asked PALEA for cooperation in allowing MacroAsia to work the departure gates for a period of six months.
The union immediately rejected the plan but offered to help in rehiring former PAL employees and recalling trainees who were not hired due to a freeze hiring program. Last June 9 PALEA submitted a partial list of people interested in the position of customer service agents.
The embattled union considers the temporary outsourcing plan a “backdoor implementation” of the controversial contractualization plan at PAL. The legality of the contractualization scheme is pending on appeal at the Office of the President while a related but separate case regarding PAL’s refusal to bargain with PALEA is due for decision at the National Labor Relations Commission. PALEA is also coordinating with the global union International Transport Workers Federation for a complaint to be filed at the International Labor Organization against the Philippine government and PAL management for violation of conventions on freedom of association and collective bargaining.
PALEA is arguing that the temporary outsourcing of regular jobs to MacroAsia is a violation of the April 1 order of Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz enjoining management and the union from engaging in any act that will exacerbate the labor dispute at PAL. Baldoz had imposed an assumption of jurisdiction order on the labor row at PAL which stopped PALEA from a planned strike last April.