Ex-employee says PAL blocked return from US | Inquirer News

Ex-employee says PAL blocked return from US

By: - Reporter / @santostinaINQ
/ 09:15 AM November 13, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—A member of the Philippine Airlines’ Employees Association (Palea) has accused the flag carrier of harassing her and her family when it barred them from boarding a PAL flight back to Manila from the United States last week because she was an active union member.

Bella Savellano, who claimed she and six members of her family were not allowed to board the PAL flight from Los Angeles on Nov. 6, arrived in Manila Saturday and vowed to rejoin Palea’s fight against contractualization.

“It’s good to be back home even after the petty persecution I experienced in the hands of PAL. My husband and children who should have been at work and school early this week, and even my 80-year mother, suffered from PAL’s harassment of its protesting employees,” Savellano said in a joint statement issued by Palea and Partido ng Manggagawa.


Savellano, who worked for PAL for more than 28 years, is one of the retrenched employees protesting PAL’s outsourcing program.


Travel benefit

Savellano and her family flew to the US on Oct. 19 to visit relatives in San Diego using her employee travel benefit that was approved before the labor protest began.

However, on Oct. 23, PAL issued a memo that rendered Savellano’s return ticket useless, according to the statement.

Sought for comment, PAL counsel Clara de Castro said: “Pursuant to company policies, those who committed a wrong or an infraction, to the detriment of the interests of the company, do not have a right to demand benefits. All those involved in the Sept. 27 wildcat strike have been required to explain as part of due process and clearance requirements but many of them never gave any explanation.”


Ian Seruelo, liaison officer of Partido Manggagawa-USA, who assisted Savellano with her fight, said that “the petty persecution was meant to force Savellano to accept the separation offer and sign up with the service provider, which is desperately in need of skilled and experienced workers from Palea.”

“We condemn the violence and other harassment tactics employed by PAL against Palea, said Sevellano. On Oct. 29, goons hired by PAL attacked the Palea protest camp, he added.

On Friday, tension rose anew between Palea members and PAL security guards as a firetruck and scores of policemen accompanied a shuttle bus of the airline into the In-flight Center (IFC).

PAL has accused Palea of hampering the company’s operations as they continue to camp out in front of the In-flight Center.

Settle differences

Meanwhile, tourism and travel industry leaders urged PAL and Palea to settle their differences, saying the disturbances were affecting the flying public and discouraging foreign visitors and prospective investors.

Robert Lim Joseph, chair of Tourism Educators and Movers Philippines (Team Philippines), said the stand-off was not serving the country’s interest.

Joseph said that while workers have a right to strike, they should not hamper the operations of PAL.

He said the government should resolutely step in to prevent trouble in the picket. He called on the police to be physically present at the picket area—not to drive away the picketing workers but to prevent trouble.

“We should allow PAL to continue to maintain its service standard as this reflects on the country being the flag carrier,” Joseph said.

Former Tourism Undersecretary Oscar Palabyab and former Foreign Undersecretary Franklin Ebdalin also said the government should protect travelers by imposing order in the area occupied by striking former PAL employees.

Palabyab said that while PAL had its lawyers and the striking workers had the support of labor groups, the travelers were left to fend for themselves.

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Ebdalin expressed concern the disagreement between PAL and its former workers would discourage foreign travelers and would affect potential investors in case PAL closes.

TAGS: PAL protests, PALEA

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