The storm was man-made. The passengers were stranded because a substantial number of airline workers decided not to report for work in protest against today’s scheduled outsourcing of three of its services—call center reservations, in-flight catering and airport services.
The Philippine Airlines Employees Association (Palea) claimed only 15 percent of its members signed their termination papers while 7 percent accepted jobs with third party service providers contracted by the airline.
In Cebu, it’s a different picture altogether. Eutiquio Bulambot, Palea board member, admitted that most of their members signed termination papers and accepted their compensation packages while he and a hardy few decided to stick it out and demand their retention as PAL employees.
With the labor dispute between PAL management and its union still protracted, President Benigno Aquino III stepped in and threatened to file charges against Palea for the “work stoppage” staged to protest the airline’s outsourcing plans.
It was the riding public that suffered from the defiant stance of the labor union last Tuesday which was exacerbated by the foul winds of tyhoon Pedring.
Can the PAL labor union afford at this time to antagonize both the Palace and the riding public? They don’t dare perceive the President to be any more sympathetic to their problems than the previous Palace occupant.
Among the complaints raised against the airline’s union is that a substantial number of members are political appointees of past leaders, chief of them the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
If last Tuesday’s work stoppage occurred on a fair weather day with no storm to blame, imagine the public uproar over the refusal of the labor union to serve their customers.
Even the Church, which is usually sympathetic to labor groups, would balk at lending their support.
We could only hope that last Tuesday’s work stoppage or wildcat strike isn’t a prelude to more disruption.
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