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PAL union mounts work stoppage

/ 08:30 AM September 28, 2011

Employees of Philippine Airlines stopped working at  7 a.m yesterday  in protest of the company’s plan to outsource 2,600 jobs.

The PAL Employees Association (Palea) said its members continued to report for work but have stopped refueling planes, moving cargo or manning check-in counters, among other jobs.

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This left  thousands of passengers stuck at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 in Manila, which is exclusive for PAL.

The action forced PAL management to announce the cancellation of all flights until 6 p.m. yesterday.

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In a press statement sent to media outlets, PAL president  Jaime J. Bautista said the work stoppage is illegal and merits the  imposition of administrative and criminal sanctions.

“Palea has decided to act now instead of waiting for the onslaught of the outsourcing typhoon on Friday. This is the mother of all protests against layoff and contractualization.  Nobody will go home and we will not back down until our demand for job security is met,” Palea president Gerry Rivera said.

Rivera said any inconvenience brought about by the protest is temporary.

“Ultimately the safe and efficient operation of PAL is guaranteed if employees are regular, not contractual. It is up to PAL to settle the dispute and prevent further difficulties to passengers and clients of the flag carrier,” he said.

Palea said they would continue their protests until the company’s management abandons its plan to cut jobs.

Their actions, which the union refuses to call a strike, is in protest of PAL’s plan to close down its call center reservations, in-flight catering and airport services by the end of the week.

About 2,600 workers will lose their jobs, but these employees have been offered to be rehired by  third-party service providers that will replace the three departments to be closed down.

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These companies are Sky Kitchen and Sky Logistics, which are owned by Cebu-based businessman Manny Osmeña, and SPi Global Holdings, owned by Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT).

Palea claimed that less than 15 percent of its members signed their termination papers, while only 7 percent accepted jobs with the third-party service providers.

“We call on PAL to begin talks for a settlement to the labor dispute. PALEA demands a stop to the outsourcing plan. We call for the opening of negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). In the CBA negotiations, we can discuss measures to make PAL viable except outsourcing,” Rivera said.

Bautista said  while PAL administrative staff are ready to take over, the management decided to defer deployment to prevent altercation between its ground workers and management volunteers.

“We are coordinating with airport authorities, the Department of Labor and Employment and the police to clear the counters and ramp areas of striking workers so PAL can resume operations as soon as possible,” he said.

Bautista said the management is apologizing to the riding public inconvenienced by the strike.

Bautista said both the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Office of the President upheld the legality of PAL’s spin-off/outsourcing plan, which these agencies recognized as “a valid exercise of management prerogative.” With an Inquirer report

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TAGS: Employees, Employment, PALEA, Philippine Airlines, protest, walk-out
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