Thursday, September 6, 2012

PALEA slams arrest warrants on 39 members

Press Release
September 6, 2012

The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) slammed a Pasay judge for an order to issue warrants of arrests against 39 of its members. The arrest warrants arose from a case of grave coercion filed by Philippine Airlines (PAL) management. “On October 29, 2011, hired goons attacked the PALEA protest camp and then PAL management tried to turn tables by filing trumped up charges against active union members. This harassment case is meant to pressure PALEA members to surrender our fight for regular jobs,” declared Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa.

Last August 15, Judge Bibiano Colasito of the Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 44 ordered that warrants of arrests be issued after a finding of probable cause. Rivera vowed that PALEA will not give up its fight and instead challenge the decision of the court. “This issue proceeds from the labor dispute between PAL and PALEA, and thus before any civil court intervenes it must first secure a clearance from the Department of Labor and Employment or the Department of Justice which did not happen in this case,” he clarified.

In the October 29 incident, half of the protest camp was torn down, a PALEA member was severely injured in the face by an attacker and one of the goons by the name of Johnny dela Cruz from Malabon was caught but later released by the police.

“In the course of almost one year of unwavering protest against outsourcing, it is clear that there will be no industrial peace at PAL without justice for its workers. Even the new PAL CEO Ramon Ang has recognized it after hearing PAL employees who spoke at the annual stockholders meeting last August 31. Ang responded that management will talk to PALEA to find a solution to the labor dispute,” Rivera said.

He also announced that big mobilizations will be held on September 27, the first anniversary of PALEA’s airport protest against outsourcing. Rallies will be held in Manila and Cebu while actions will also be staged by airline and other unions in Sydney and Melbourne, Istanbul in Turkey, San Francisco in the USA, Toronto and Vancouver in Canada, Lahore in Pakistan and other countries. The September protests are billed as a global day of action for airline workers to highlight the campaign against outsourcing and for workers rights in the aviation industry.
Apart from the grave coercion rap, 234 PALEA members including the top leaders are facing another case due to the September 27, 2011 protest at the Manila International Airport. PAL filed the case for alleged violation of RA 9497 or the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Law, specifically Section 81 (b) (5) which sanctions “any person who destroys or seriously damages the facilities of an airport or disrupts the services of an airport.”

Rivera added that the decision has a chilling effect on labor relations and is a clear and present danger to workers rights. “Labor protests will then be banned in the aviation industry with workers penalized by both imprisonment and fine in violation of constitutionally guaranteed rights. This will be a grave precedent and new special laws can then be enacted to deny workers the freedoms of assembly, expression, self-organization and strike,” he explained.

He explained that “The decision is void of any legal basis as no damages were committed to airport facilities. The CAAP Law is also explicit in providing that ‘only the Director General’ can file the appropriate charges and not the PAL Vice-President of the Airport Services as in this case.” Despite the finding of probable cause by another Pasay court for the CAAP Law case, warrants of arrest have apparently been stayed by petitions for review filed by PALEA.

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