September 29, 2011
The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) dismissed threats of an economic sabotage case from the government and an illegal strike suit from the management of Philippine Airlines (PAL). “We are confident that PALEA’s protest against contractualization last Tuesday is within the bounds of the Constitutionally-guaranteed right to seek redress of grievances,” declared Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).
PALEA also announced that they will hold a big protest at the airport tomorrow which is the last day of work for 2,600 PAL employees affected by the outsourcing plan. The union has already set up a protest camp outside the PAL In-Flight Center along
near Terminal 2 where several hundred PALEA members are staying at any one time. “We call on PALEA members to report for duty at the protest camp since PAL has locked us out of our workplace at Terminal 2 and other offices,” Rivera proclaimed.
Meanwhile the protest against outsourcing is escalating as PAL employees in outlying stations gear up to hold their own protests. Tomorrow PALEA and other labor groups are scheduled to hold rallies in
Davao at the international airport and in at the old airport. On October 1, a similar broad coalition of labor groups including PALEA will stage a Lakbayan from Bacolod Cebu City to the Mactan International Airport at . Lapu-Lapu City
Rivera asserted that “We consider these threats as mere scare tactics that will not weaken the defiance of PALEA against the layoff and contractualization scheme of PAL. PAL employees are not stupid. We know the law.”
He explained that the penal provisions of Republic Act No. 9497 or the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines Act of 2008 refers to the disruption of airport services and damage to airport facilities, and does not pertain to stoppage of airline operations. “The airport itself and an airline company are two different entities. If R.A. 9497 prohibits protests and strikes at a private airline such as PAL then it contradicts the provisions of the Labor Code on the right to strike. But it does not. PAL employees are private sector workers that are expressly allowed by law to hold concerted actions and even go on strike,” Rivera contended.
However he reiterated that PALEA merely held a protest and did not hold a strike. “Goodluck to PAL if it can argue its illegal strike case. But we know it is just a threat intended to frighten PAL employees, similar to its repeated warning of administrative cases against protesting workers,” Rivera claimed.
He added that “Whoever advised PNoy on the economic sabotage case should be outsourced. The facts are clear that it was PAL which shutdown the company’s computer systems and other communication facilities immediately after the start of the protest, and then cancelled the flights that stranded passengers.”