Saturday, August 20, 2011

PALEA to act vs. premature implementation of layoffs at PAL

A PAL employee's child write her mother about the planned layoffs and the motorcade on Monday, August 22

Press Release
August 20, 2011

The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) warned management against prematurely implementing the planned retrenchment of more than 2,600 workers. The union asserts that Office of the President (OP) is yet executory pending final judicial resolution of the case. “PALEA will act accordingly to defend the jobs and the future of PAL employees should management make the mistake of hastily laying off workers,” declared Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).

PALEA also dismissed the appeal of Malacanang that the union refrains from paralyzing the operations of the national flag carrier. “Why is PNoy so worried that PAL’s profitable operations go unhampered but is so unconcerned about thousands of workers losing their regular jobs? If the Palace is concerned about a strike at PAL then they should have heeded the demands of its workers instead of acceding to management’s plans,” Rivera argued.

In response to the OP decision and the planned layoffs at PAL’s, PALEA is embarking on both a legal course and mass actions. A petition is to be filed with the Court of Appeals while protests by PAL employees and their allies are being held. PAL employees in Manila have been wearing black ribbons, shirts and blouses since last Thursday while those in the provincial airports started yesterday. On Monday afternoon a motorcade will be launched that will start from the office of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority in
Roxas Boulevard
cor. Buendia and then proceed to
Ayala Ave.
in Makati.

Rivera added that “We are ready to defend our jobs and the union if PAL does not back down on forcing employees to accept the retrenchment plan. We call on PALEA members to be ready to act on a moment’s notice. PALEA members will rather die standing than be killed on our knees.”

PALEA lambasted as a “misinformation drive” the “town hall meetings” that management plan to hold with PAL employees. “If management tries to convince employees to accept the layoff plan then it is tantamount to individual bargaining that is an unfair labor practice and a strikable offence,” Rivera insisted.

The union criticized management for its “double standards on implementing government rulings.” Rivera explained that “PAL has no moral authority to convince the ground crew to accept the OP decision when it does not even implement the Labor Department decisions on the retirement age of flight attendants.”

Rivera described the roots of the militance of PAL employees by saying that “After making its workers sacrifice their collective bargaining rights for more than a decade, PAL now rewards them with termination and refusal to bargain.” The collective bargaining negotiations have been suspended since 1998 and till now PAL refuses to open talks with PALEA. As a consequence, the last wage hike enjoyed by PAL employees was in 2008.

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