November 9, 2011
The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) called on the House of Representatives Labor Committee (LaborCom) to investigate the daybreak attack by alleged hired goons on its protest camp which resulted in injuries to seven of its members and the death of a bystander. “We appeal to the LaborCom to inquire into the culpability of Philippine Airlines (PAL) in the attack in the interest of formulating policy reforms to protect workers right to peaceably assemble. Despite its vehement denials, PAL is the only party with a vested interest in having the campout dismantled,” asserted Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa.
Congress just resumed its session yesterday and was in recess when the attack on the PALEA campout occurred last October 29. In its last hearing on the PAL-PALEA labor dispute, the LaborCom issued a summons to PAL owner Lucio Tan to attend and answer questions. Malacanang also ordered the Department of Labor and Employment to probe attack on the protest camp.
“In pursuit of its continuing investigation of the PAL-PALEA dispute, the LaborCom should look into the character of the service providers Sky Logistics and Sky Kitchen. PAL’s insistence on ingress and egress rights at the In-Flight Center (IFC) raises legitimate questions that these supposed independent companies are actually dummy agencies engaged in illegal labor-only contracting. PAL should have no more need for the IFC since it announced that it has closed down and outsourced the airport services, call center reservations and catering departments. Unless it is allowing Sky Logistics and Sky Kitchen use of the facilities of the IFC as PALEA has initially documented,” Rivera expounded.
PALEA is calling on the LaborCom to recommended reforms in Labor Code such as an anti-scab law and restriction on the free ingress and egress of strike-bound companies. “Violence inevitably breaks out when capitalists insists on using its facilities and employing scabs amidst strikes and disputes,” Rivera added.
He insisted that “PAL is trying to turn the tables on PALEA and crying harassment when facts point to their responsibility in the attack. The LaborCom can also ask a certain Johnny dela Cruz, one of the goons who was apprehended by PALEA members and then turned over to the police, to testify. He already made a sworn testimony to the police that they were paid to disperse the campout. Dela Cruz used the term management as the mastermind of the attack. Apparently PAL outsourced the dispersal to a goons-provider.”
PALEA has vowed to defend its protest camp in the face of continuing threats of dispersal. The union has also declared that its occupation of the IFC perimeter is a contribution to global movement against corporate greed and corruption.