Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Subsidy to airlines must have pro-labor conditionalities

Philippine Airlines to pay $117m fees after Duterte threats ...
Photo from Asian Nikkei

The labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) asserted that any subsidy for the airline industry must be tied to conditionalities. “Public aid to private corporations, especially big business like airlines, should enhance social justice and workers’ rights. We demand that taxpayer bailout of the three local airlines must be conditional,” declared Rene Magtubo, PM national chair.

He added that “Specifically, these conditions should include no layoffs, reinstatement of those already retrenched this year and institution of worker representation in the corporate boards of the airline companies. The airlines’ demand for P8.6 billion per month would easily surpass in two months the P3 billion spent for DOLE’s CAMP and P10 billion for SBWS that benefited workers. Withholding taxes levied on workers constitute the biggest portion of the tax revenues and thus labor is a stakeholder in any disbursement of people’s money.”

Last February 28, Philippine Airlines (PAL) announced a mass layoff of 300 regular employees allegedly due to the impact of covid. Then in March 19, Cebu Pacific let go of 150 cabin crew on probationary status because of covid travel bans. Finally on April 3, the 1Aviation Groundhandling Services Corp. retrenched 400 workers who were due to be regularized. The company services Cebu Pacific and is a joint venture of the Gokongwei-owned Cebu Air Inc. and another ground handling corporation.

“These 850 fellow airline workers deserve to have their jobs back as part of the recovery of the airline industry. No one must be left behind as the airline industry gets back on its feet with the help of taxpayer’s money,” insisted Eugene Soriano, former treasurer of the union PAL Employees Association (PALEA).

He demanded that PAL, before it receives any government subsidy, must implement the 2013 settlement agreement forged between the airline and PALEA to reinstate 600 employees retrenched in 2011 due to a controversial outsourcing program.

Magtubo argued that if the airlines would reject conditionalities on state aid for the airlines, the industry might as well be nationalized. “If the three airlines can only survive on taxpayer support, then nationalization is another option. Three private airlines competing for reduced passenger demand is an inefficient utilization of capital,” he averred.

PM’s demand for pro-labor conditionalities on government support is part of its call for “workers first in the new normal.” Part of its workers first platform are calls for ayudang sapat para sa lahat, balik trabahong ligtas, ayuda lagpas sa ECQ and makataong tugon hindi militarisasyon.

12 May 2020

No comments: