Saturday, November 12, 2011

Blacklisted PALEA member returns from US, rejoins protest

Press Release
November 12, 2011

A member of the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) who was refused boarding by Philippine Airlines (PAL) for allegedly being on a “blacklist” of protesting employees, returned from the United States today and vowed to rejoin the fight against contractualization. Belle Savellano and her family arrived from Taipei on an Eva Airways flight around noon today. Last November 6, PAL denied to fly Savellano and six members of her family despite holding tickets for the Los Angeles-Manila flight.

“It is good to be back home even after the petty persecution I experienced at the hands of PAL. My husband and children who should have been at work and school early this week, and even my 80-year mother suffered from PAL’s harassment of its protesting employees,” stated Savellano.

Meanwhile PALEA welcomed Savellano back to the protest. “Belle will be warmly received by her PALEA colleagues in the protest camp. Unfortunately, further harassment awaits Belle as the threat to disperse the campout continues to this day. A few days ago, PAL filed criminal charges against the PALEA 41 just to bully them into accepting the separation package and applying as contractuals in the service providers,” said Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).

Yesterday the PALEA campout was the scene of renewed tension as a firetruck and scores of police accompanied a shuttle bus of PAL that went inside the In-Flight Center (IFC). But no untoward incident happened as PALEA members simply watched the bus arrive and depart from the compound.

PALEA has been questioning PAL’s insistence in operating the IFC since its in-flight catering and airport services have already been closed down. Rivera asserts that “Evidently PAL will allow Sky Logistics and Sky Kitchen use of the IFC which means the service providers are nothing but illegal labor-only contractors.”

Representatives from PM-USA and Filipino-American groups BANTAY Pilipinas-Los Angeles, Alliance Philippines and Echo Park Community Coalition earlier called on the public especially Filipino-Americans to boycott PAL as the groups condemned the harassment tactics of the company against PALEA members.

Savellano, a PALEA member who worked for PAL for more than 28 years, is one of some 2,400 employees locked out after PALEA’s protest last September 27. Savellano and family flew to the US on October 19 to visit their relatives in San Diego using her employee travel benefit that was approved before the lock out. On October 23, PAL issued a memo that renders Savellano’s return ticket useless.

The Fil-Am groups vowed to increase its efforts to campaign for the boycott of PAL until the flag carrier has heeded the demands of PALEA for the return to their regular jobs. They believe that the fight against corporate greed is exemplified in the struggle of PALEA. They jointly declared that “The oppression of PALEA is a reflection of the plight of ordinary workers all over the world. We have to fight back as we are all PALEAns!”

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