Thursday, December 8, 2011

PALEA takes fight to Australia and Canada

PALEA VP Alnem Pretencio meeting ASU airlines delegates (Photo courtesy of ASU)

PALEA VP meeting with ASU organizers (Photo courtesy of ASU)
Press Release
December 8, 2011

The embattled Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) is taking its fight against the outsourcing and contractualization plan of Philippine Airlines to Australia and Canada. The vice president of PALEA, Alnem Pretencio, is in Australia now on a tour sponsored by unions with the aim of soliciting international support.

This coming Saturday (Eastern Standard Time), Canadian unions and groups together with the Filipino community will hold a demonstration at the Toronto international airport in solidarity with PALEA. Toronto hosts the biggest population of immigrant Filipinos in Canada.

Meanwhile yesterday Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz was questioned by a delegate in the ILO regional meeting in Kyoto, Japan about the government's handling of the PALEA labor dispute. The challenge to Baldoz is an expression of the snowballing international support for PALEA.

Aside from expressing for PALEA’s demand for immediate reinstatement, the Canadian groups will be disseminating information about the boycott campaign against PAL and Air Philippines, both owned by Lucio Tan. Yesterday representatives of various civil society organizations of migrants, students and NGO’s held a press conference to call for “Don’t fly PAL and AirPhil” and denounced Tan as “a Grinch who stole Christmas from some 2,600 PAL employees.”

On its second day of the tour, Pretencio had already met with bus, tram and train unions in Melbourne. Also he is scheduled to meet with airport workers represented by the Australian Services Union (ASU), the Qantas aircraft engineers union ALAEA and the Qantas ground crew union TWU. More meetings are planned in the weekend and next week including with the militant Maritime Union of Australia. Pretencio’s tour was held in coordination with the Australia-Asia Workers Links and ASU.

In Toronto, the airport workers represented by the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW), Canadian Union of Public Employees and the International Association of Machinists took the lead in organizing the rally for PALEA. Activists of the Occupy Toronto are also slated to participate in the solidarity action.

Among the reasons for the warm reception received by Pretencio in Australia is the solidarity shown by PALEA for the Qantas workers who are in a similar dispute with management over outsourcing, job security and pay. PALEA has twice picketed the Qantas office in Makati during the lockout in November 1 and as part of the global day of action for Qantas families last November 16.

The support by Canadian unions does not end with the Toronto rally. Early next year, the groups are planning to hold a similar solidarity action in the Vancouver international airport. CAW has vowed to make an active boycott campaign in the Vancouver since PAL operates flights to and from the international airport.

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