September 14, 2015
For the second straight week, the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) is holding protests against the latest round of mass layoffs at Philippine Airlines (PAL). More than a week ago, PAL announced the retrenchment this November of 117 employees, all working at domestic airports all around the country.
Today PALEA is once more picketing the PAL main office at the
in PNB Building Macapagal Boulevard. In last week’s protest,
some one hundred PALEA members with a contingent from the militant Partido
Manggagawa (PM) picketed PAL’s main office and also its offices in Nichols at
the Airport Road
PALEA revealed that the mass actions are the start of a renewed campaign to oppose contractualization and outsourcing. It will continue on to PALEA’s 69th year anniversary on September 21 and then escalate in November in time for the APEC summit.
“The new round of layoffs is another wave of contractualization. Regular unionized workers are being replaced with contractual employees who will be paid less in wages and benefits,” insisted Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and PM vice chair.
He added that “Last September 2, PAL sent a formal notice of separation due to redundancy to PALEA. But in truth, no redundancy will transpire since the positions will not be vacated; workers to be retrenched will be replaced by new employees from so-called service providers. Also in some cases, employees served by the notice of separation were immediately replaced by contractual workers.”
Aside from blasting the latest layoffs, PALEA is also calling for the opening of collective bargaining negotiations and the full implementation of a settlement agreement that ended the dispute over the last mass retrenchment in 2011.
No collective bargaining negotiation between PAL and PALEA has happened since 1998 when a 10-year CBA suspension was imposed. After a two-year fight, PALEA and PAL forged a deal to settle the labor dispute of 2011 yet some 600 retrenched members have not been re-employed as provided for in the agreement.
“PAL has given no clear criteria in implementing the supposed redundancy program except to announce the separation benefits. In fact, we suspect that most of the regular PAL workers to be retrenched may just be rehired as contractual employees by the service provider since they possess the skill set needed for the job. Meaning this is a contractualization scam similar to the 2011 outsourcing program that affected more than 2,000 workers.”
Further Rivera argued that the latest round of layoffs is another expression of PAL owner Lucio Tan’s “no union policy.” He called for the solidarity of the labor movement and allied groups for PALEA’s continuing fight for regular employment.