‘We’re saving airline, 5,000 jobs’By Paolo G. Montecillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
As Philippine Airlines (PAL) spins off its three non-core units and begins outsourcing 2,600 jobs starting today (Saturday), the nation flag carrier lashed out at critics of the program, saying this was necessary to save the airline from “financial ruin ” and ensure its long-term survival.
In a statement, PAL President Jaime J. Bautista said detractors of the plan see the loss of jobs for 2,600 members of the PAL Employees Association (Palea), but conveniently turn a blind eye on the 5,000 office personnel, cabin crew and pilots that PAL is trying to save.
“The law is on our side. We’re implementing the outsourcing program not on mere whim or caprice but on the basis of legal and valid orders from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Office of the President. We’re doing it to save the airline from financial ruin,” Bautista said.
PAL’s outsourcing plan involves three departments, namely its call centers, in-flight catering and airport services. Workers in these three departments are deemed officially terminated effective Saturday.
In their last rally as PAL employees, Palea members vented their ire on President Aquino and Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas, whom they accused of pandering to PAL’s owner, tycoon Lucio Tan.
The Partido Manggagawa, of which Palea is a member, said Aquino and Roxas would be both declared “enemies of the people” if they continue to take the side of management in the dispute.
Palea said some 3,000 attended the rally along Naia Road in Pasay City, but police estimated the crowd at 1,200 to 1,500.
Bautista issued the statement as he rejected calls by the airline’s union to go back to the negotiating table.
“The DOLE and the President have spoken. Palea has filed their appeal with the appellate court. Let’s just wait for the CA’s action on this matter. We have nothing more to talk about. The time for diplomacy is long over, especially after the union’s wildcat strike,” he said.
Last Tuesday, PAL employees affected by the outsourcing program staged a “sit-down” strike by reporting for work, but refusing to do their jobs. The company was forced to cancel flights for 16 hours, affecting more than 14,000 passengers.
PAL has put in place its own replacement workers, but the airline’s operations have not normalized. The company had expected most of its employees affected by the retrenchment to agree to be rehired by the three new companies sub-contracted to replace the closed departments.
But most Palea members had refused to take jobs at the new companies in defiance of the outsourcing program. The three service providers—Sky Kitchen, Sky Logistics and SPi Global Holdings—have been unable to hire enough workers from outside to replace Palea members.
‘Clear as day’
“It is as clear as day that the outsourcing is a failure and PAL does not have the manpower to normalize its operations,” Palea president Gerry Rivera said.
“We call on PAL to end the lockout of its employees and halt the premature implementation of the outsourcing plan pending the final decision of the courts,” he said.
Bautista said the Palea members’ refusal to work forced management to cancel flights for more than 16 hours last Tuesday which caused untold suffering to more than 14,000 PAL passengers.