PAL union decries management court suits as bullying
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Airlines Employees Association (Palea) on Thursday branded as harassment the criminal charges filed by the flag carrier against some of its members accused of harassing airline staff and service providers during a protest more than a week ago.
PAL management on Wednesday filed charges of grave coercion against 41 of its former employees at the Pasay City prosecutor’s office.
“PAL is using the courts to bully our members into submission. The filing of charges left and right is meant to coerce Palea members to avail of separation package and to apply as contractuals in Sky Logistics and Sky Kitchen which are gravely in need of the trained expertise of these workers,” said Gerry Rivera, Palea president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa, in a statement.
Palea expressed confidence that the charges filed against their members will be dismissed for lack of merit.
“All the incidents at the protest camp arose out of and involved the labor dispute between PAL and Palea and thus jurisdiction properly resides in the National Labor Relations Commission or the Labor Department,” Rivera said.
PAL said that on September 28, Palea members began their blockade of the PAL Inflight Center on MIA Road to protest the flag carrier’s outsourcing program. The facility houses the airline’s cabin services department and inflight kitchens where meals for all PAL flights are prepared.
Since then, PAL’s trucks and drivers, including those of its service providers, were subjected to intimidation, threats and even physical violence by protesting former PAL employees every time they leave and enter the compound, PAL said in a statement.
PAL security officer Zenas Agbay, the ground team leader on the day of the incident, submitted an affidavit-complaint detailing what transpired on October 29.
He said that in the early morning of that day, as two vehicles loaded with trolleys, catering equipment and supplies were about to leave the compound, a group of Palea members armed with rattan batons and lighted torches blocked their path.
As the protesters swelled in number, so did their hostility, Agbay said. He added the protesters placed planks with protruding nails on the driveway and positioned a car to serve as a barricade.
“All the while, Palea union members were shouting invectives and threats at the driver and security guards,” Agbay added.
However, Rivera also described the incident involving the PAL truck that attempted to leave the PAL In-Flight Center last October 29 as “a diversionary tactic while hired goons attacked the protest camp.”
“The PAL truck tried to leave the compound accompanied by a phalanx of security guards in full riot gear. But despite their overwhelming number vis-à-vis a handful of Palea members, the PAL guards retreated when the attack on the other end of the protest camp was already proceeding,” Rivera said.
“At around 5:45 a.m., some 40 hired goons attacked the Palea protest camp while women and children were still sleeping. Armed with long sticks and stones, the goons destroyed tents and injured seven Palea members in the violent daybreak,” he said, adding that one of the goons was apprehended and confessed in a sworn statement to the police that they were paid by the PAL management.
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