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Clark Airport workers’ union votes to go on strike

/ 05:12 AM January 12, 2019

KEY ROLEClark International Airport played a key role in August last year after it accepted flights diverted from Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) following an accident involving a Xiamen Airlines jet at Naia. —PHOTO FROM CIAC 

CLARK FREEPORT—The Clark International Airport Corp. (Ciac) here is bracing for a strike favored by 158 members of the 245-strong employees’ union, which has been fighting to keep its members’ jobs following the privatization of the gateway’s operations and maintenance (O&M).

Of the 174 members of the Samahan ng mga Manggagawa sa Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (SMD), who took part in the Jan. 8 strike vote supervised by the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole), only 13 voted ‘No’ while three others abstained.

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Others failed to vote because they were intimidated by management, SMD said in a statement on Friday.

SMD did not announce when the strike would commence, but Ciac president Jaime Melo said mediation and negotiations facilitated by the National Conciliation and Mediation Board were ongoing.

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Union complaints

In their Dec. 14 notice of strike, SMD accused Ciac of unfair labor practices for outsourcing job positions needed for operation and maintenance. The union said O&M was the reason for which Ciac was “incorporated, hence, illegal and tantamount to killing or busting the union.”

SMD also said the Ciac decision affected all benefits obligated by the collecting bargaining agreement (CBA) for 2011 to 2015. The union said Ciac had refused to negotiate all economic CBA provisions for 2016 to 2020.

The union pressed on with the strike when Ciac’s mother unit, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), announced on Dec. 20 that the North Luzon Airport Consortium of Singapore’s Changi Airport Philippines Pte. Ltd., Fil-Invest Development Corp., JG Summit Holdings Inc. and Philippine Airport Ground Support Solutions Inc. won the bid for the airport’s O&M.

BCDA directed the consortium to take over operations within 180 days.

Lower package

SMD said Ciac offered the union a severance package it describes as “much lower” than what its sister company, the Clark Development Corp., had offered to employees availing themselves of voluntary early retirement in 2004.

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“Worse, Ciac did not offer to pay the affected employees’ unpaid CBA benefits since 2011 to 2018, [nor did it assure them about] their job and union security rights,” SMD said.

There are fears the strike would hamper the 202 international flights and 454 domestic flights that fly in and out of Clark airport each week. More than 2.5 million passengers have flown via Clark airport in 2018, according to Ciac.

International destinations from Clark airport include Doha and Dubai in the Middle East, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, Taipei and Singapore. Local flights serve Cebu, Boracay, Bacolod, Davao and Palawan passengers. —TONETTE OREJAS

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TAGS: CIAC, Clark, Local news, Philippine news update, provincial news, Regions
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