Wednesday, September 21, 2011

PALEA marks 65th anniversary with vow to defeat PAL’s union busting scheme

Press Release
September 21, 2011

The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) marked its 65th anniversary today with a mass and a program at the Our Lady of the Airways Parish near Terminal 2 of the Manila International Airport. “As PALEA celebrates its founding, we make a vow to defeat the union busting scheme of Philippine Airlines that is masquerading as an outsourcing plan. PALEA intends to have many more birthdays to come and to serve PAL employees and the Filipino workers to a ripe old age,” stated Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa.

PALEA is arguably the oldest existing labor union in the country. A group of about 50 ground technical/mechanics employees based in then Nichols Field founded PALEA on September 21, 1946. This is not the first time that PALEA has faced the challenge of mass layoff. Way back in 1954, many PALEA members were laid off due to the suspension of international flights and this led to hardship to their families.

Most recently in June 1998, some 1,800 PALEA members and 1,400 flight attendants were dismissed. This provoked the PALEA strike of 1998 and the protracted legal battle by the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP) against illegal termination.

PALEA hailed the Supreme Court (SC) decision that ruled with finality that the 1998 termination of flight crew as illegal and ordered their reinstatement. “This is the reason we insist that the Office of the President (OP) decision on the outsourcing plan is not executory pending final judicial resolution. We call on PAL to learn the lessons of the FASAP case and stop the outsourcing plan before it’s too late. But if PAL will be intransigent in locking out workers come October 1 then we will be forced to defy and resist,” Rivera explained.

He added that “We cannot allow PAL to lockout 2,600 workers, wait for 13 years for the courts final determination that outsourcing is illegal and let our families and children suffer the misery of our loss of jobs and contractual employment. Justice delayed is justice denied. We ask for the understanding of the public for any inconvenience that our protest against lockout will entail.”

PALEA has a pending petition at the Court of Appeals (CA) against the OP decision on the outsourcing plan. Rivera noted that among the issues resolved by the SC in the FASAP case was that retrenchment is valid only if alleged business losses are substantial, serious and actual, which PAL failed to prove for the case of the flight crew.

He elaborated that “The flight attendants were dismissed in 1998 at a time when PAL was obviously facing loss losses but the courts nonetheless saw that the financial difficulties were not serious enough to merit mass layoff. Thus we believe that both the CA and SC will both rule against PAL’s outsourcing plan. Like the FASAP case, PAL argued for the outsourcing plan on supposed losses which has been disproved by the company’s own financial statements proving the flag carrier is highly profitable.”

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