Philippine Airline workers intensify protest actions

The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) today asserted that Philippine Airlines (PAL) President Jaime Bautista’s announcement that they no longer acknowledge Gerry Rivera and Bong Palad as union officers exposes union busting as the real aim of outsourcing. “Truly a fish is caught by its mouth. Actually PAL is not just recognizing me and Palad as union officers but 62% of PALEA’s leadership and 70% of its membership who have been illegally lockout and terminated. Outsourcing thus is tantamount to union busting,” stated Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM - Labor Party).

Union busting is the real aim of outsourcing

By Labor Party - Philippines (PM)

Meanwhile Renato Magtubo, PM chair and co-chair of the Church-Labor Conference, an alliance of labor and church groups supporting PALEA, condemned threats from the Philippine National Police to disperse the campout at the PAL Inflight Center where thousands of employees continue their protest. “We warn government against using force to break the protest camp of PALEA. Labor and church groups will be one in strongly denouncing such a move,” he said.

The dispersal threat came as hundreds of PALEA members left the campout to attend the session of the House of Representatives this afternoon as Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello delivered a privilege speech defending the rights of PAL workers and assailing the outsourcing/contractualization scheme as a bankrupt model. What may be considered good for a corporation may be harmful not only to the workers but to the economic health of a country in general, PM said in a statement.

“Corporate downsizing, implemented through different forms including outsourcing or contractualization schemes, came from the most advanced capitalist economy of the world, the United States. But look at the US now? Corporate America and the US domestic market is practically dead, with temp workers receiving less wages than what workers were receiving in 1979, dominating the labor market,” said Magtubo.

In fact, Magtubo added, the main thrust of President Obama’s bailout package today to save and stimulate the US economy is to provide jobs and restore the purchasing power of the American people. The former partylist representative revealed that the main employer now in the United States is the Manpower, Inc., a service contractor employing more than 700,000 temp workers deployed to any kind of work on a daily, monthly, or semestral basis – similar to the proposed transfer of PAL workers to service providers on contractual arrangements.

The scheme, Magtubo said, is being opposed by the American people prompting the Democratic Party to adopt a platform of prohibiting offshore outsourcing, while American trade unions step up their campaign against coporate downsizing, the present expression of it is the ongoing campaign for the occupation of Wall St.

Rivera said they won’t mind if “Terminator JJB” doesn’t recognize them as a matter of personal grudge against the union, “But the law recognizes us as the sole representative of PAL workers pending the resolution of the case filed before the courts on the legality of the outsourcing scheme. We remain PALEA officers and we will officially represent our members in whatever forum, including with that of the management.”


PALEA: Defiance to outsourcing is a global trend


The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) today observed that protests against job outsourcing and labor flexibilization are a global trend. “Outsourcing may be a global trend as Philippine Airlines (PAL) claims but defiance to contractualization is also an international phenomenon. Just days after PALEA’s protest last Tuesday, Qantas ground crew in Australia went on strike over grievances that include lack of job security,” argued Gerry Rivera , PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).

PALEA holds a family day today in which Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo will lead an afternoon mass at the protest camp. PALEA’s protest continues on their sixth day at the campout outside PAL’s In-Flight Center near Terminal 2. Yesterday PALEA members in Cebu set up their own protest camp outside the Mactan International Airport in Lapu-Lapu City.

“Instead of going to the mall, eating out or just relaxing at home, PALEA members’ spend their first Sunday as officially jobless with their spouses and children at the protest camp,” Rivera explained. Family members are among the hundreds of protesters regularly gathered at the protest camp since it started.

“Protest is also a family affair. PALEA’s fight for regular jobs is for the future of its members’ families,” Nerissa Andolong-Puno, wife of a PAL employee said.

Rivera stated that “After the downfall of the hated dictators of Tunisia and Egypt, where revolutions have sparked the spread of the Arab Spring, workers immediately demanded through strikes for regular work and job security due to the prevalence of contractual employment that pays so little in wage and benefits. In Europe, among the grievances that animate the general strikes is job insecurity. Regular jobs are also a demand of people participating in the ongoing
Occupy Wall Street
protest in New York.”

Among the activities lined up for PALEA’s family day are art and crafts workshops for children so they can express their understanding of their parents’ fight against layoff and contractualization. By 5:00 p.m. a mass will be officiated at the protest camp. And then at 6:00 p.m. the regular candle lighting protest will be held.

PALEA also thanked the FASAP (Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines) for its support. “Members of the cabin crew have been sending their solidarity in words and in deeds. The press statement they issued has boosted our members’ morale. Flight crews regularly donate food to the protest camp. It fills not just our stomachs but our hearts as well,” Rivera claimed.

PAL’s alleged losses and ruin is a fairy tale

The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) called the alleged financial ruin of Philippine Airlines (PAL) as “a modern-day fairy tale.” “PAL does not have to choose between saving the jobs of 2,600 PALEA members and the remaining 5,000 employees since it is not in danger of bankruptcy. PAL has not been able to start the outsourcing plan for the past two years because of PALEA’s defiance and yet it earned a net income of $72.5 million or more than P3 billion in its last fiscal year and is already projecting a modest profit for the present year,” asserted Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa.

He added that “The threat of ruin if outsourcing is not implemented is plain and simple black propaganda and blackmail by PAL. The reason the dispute has dragged on for the last two years and the present standoff exists is because of PAL’s intransigence.”

PALEA lambasted PAL’s refusal to open talks to resolve the labor dispute. “It has become clear since the forcible eviction of protesting PALEA members that the replacement workers and scabs cannot normalize operations and make PAL fly. The failure of the outsourcing plan is the cause of the continuing flight cancellations and delays,” Rivera insisted. PALEA is calling on PAL end the dispute by halting the outsourcing plan pending the final decision of the courts.

Meanwhile protests continue to spread to PAL’s outlying stations as locked out and laid off PALEA members in Cebu set up their own campout today at the Mactan International Airport. This afternoon a “Lakbayan Laban sa Kontraktwalisasyon” of some 500 workers will march from Mandaue City to the protest camp at the airport. Yesterday rallies were held by PALEA and labor groups in Bacolod and Davao to lambast the contractualization plan of PAL.

“PAL is guilty of a double standard. When it is losing a case such as the illegal dismissal of 1,400 flight attendants, it insists on exhausting the judicial process. It fought the case up to the Supreme Court and even delayed the final resolution by filing two motions for reconsideration. We congratulate our brothers and sisters cabin crew for their hard-won victory but we will not allow PALEA members to become contractuals and our families to suffer in the coming years only to be later vindicated by the courts that outsourcing is illegal as we contend,” Rivera explained.

On their first day as officially jobless, the 2,600 PALEA members continue their protest but using the cultural form. Artists from the Dakila Collective for Modern Heroism will perform at a solidarity concert dubbed “Pamorningan sa PALEA” starting this evening at the protest camp at the PAL In-flight Center. Dakila is led by renowned artists Lourd de Veyra and Noel Cabangon.


P-Noy’s threat vs PALEA a boost for Lucio Tan’s ‘sabotage’ of workers’ rights

By Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL)

WHILE in the safety and comfort of his Japanese junket, and away from the wrath of a powerful tropical storm, Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III ordered government lawyers to look into the option of slapping lawsuits, including “economic sabotage” – aside from “illegal strike,” other administrative and criminal cases that management wants to file – against members of the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) who staged a sit-in strike last Tuesday at the height of typhoon “Pedring.”

Aquino’s impulsive reaction has further revealed the shallowness and hypocrisy of his “you’re my boss” rhetoric. It is becoming apparent that his true bosing are his fellow few and mighty elites, including billionaire Lucio Tan, the shrewd PAL owner, and not P-Noy’s much ballyhooed amo, the vast majority masa. It has become a pure and simple electoral slogan or gimmickry and a catchword routinely used in his speeches like in the yearly SONA or State of the Nation Address. It is a phrase that has become worn out, and which the people are getting sick and tired of hearing.

The unfortunate incident on Sept. 27 – where about 14,000 passengers were stranded when 172 domestic and international PAL flights were cancelled when the PAL ground crew refused to work while at their respective posts in NAIA Terminal 2 – could have been avoided if the PAL management, led by Tan, who is also PAL’s chair and CEO, and his company president, Jaime Bautista, had only engaged the union in a truly honest and give and take dialogue. This kind of talk and negotiation should have been done by the company even after last year’s infamous DOLE or Lagman-Baldoz ruling that declared the planned extensive outsourcing in PAL as “just and legitimate” management prerogative, as well as its upholding by Aquino last August after doing a Pontius Pilate for several months.

On second thought, PAL management may be after all incapable of humility and magnanimity even amid its “legal” victory. Remember that Lucio Tan, since buying PAL in 1992, is hell-bent on destroying the union and imposing wide-ranging contractualization – two prerequisites to ensure greater profits. What he is doing today is almost similar to what he did 13 years ago. In 1998, using as excuse the Asian financial crisis, PAL terminated over 1,500 pilots and flight crews; but later rehired many of them but at entry level wages and benefits, loss of seniority, and a promise from the pilots not to organize a union. In the same year, through coercive and co-optation tactics, PAL forced the PALEA ground crew union to accept a 10-year CBA moratorium which was extended for two more years (1998-2010).

The current plan to outsource or contract out three so-called “non-core” units of PAL – airport services, in-flight catering and call center reservations – was dubiously floated by management when the CBA moratorium was about to end. Remember no CBA means no higher wages and benefits; and more importantly, no union means no CBA, no effective instrument to defend and promote labor and trade union rights. Related to this, contractual workers mean having lower wages and benefits, banned from joining unions and without security of tenure.

So here’s the rub. Of the more than 2,600 workers to be affected by the sweeping outsourcing program of Lucio Tan that would start this October: at least 70 percent are union members and 62 percent belong to the union leadership, from top officials to shop stewards. A number of them may be employed by the so-called third-party service providers (Sky Logistics, Sky Kitchen and SPi Global Holdings), repeating the dilemma of those who endured the 1998 mass retrenchments and “re-employment.”

Lucio Tan’s outsourcing is nothing but a union-busting ploy and a guarantee of bigger and easier profits for him and his cohorts. His outsourcing is just another name for the systematic and widespread labor contractualization that creates a huge army of cheaper, powerless and squabbling non-regular and non-unionized workers. And his wicked designs are further emboldened by Noynoy Aquino’s publicized warning that those who joined the so-called “wildcat strike” by PALEA deserved to be punished. But the workers did not “sabotage” the national economy and PAL; it is Lucio Tan who sabotaged and continues to sabotage the just and legitimate rights of the workers to organize, to collectively bargain, to hold peaceful concerted actions, and to security of tenure.


PAL outsourcing plan is economic sabotage - Akbayan

By Akbayan Party

Akbayan (Citizens Action Party) declared on Thursday its solidarity with the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) as the union continues to protest against Philippine Airlines management’s lock out and termination of the workers way ahead of the scheduled implementation of their outsourcing plan.

PAL’s decision to outsource over 2000 jobs was supported by the Office of the President, and is supposed to take effect on October 1, 2011. However management began firing employees at least a week before the scheduled termination and replaced them with unqualified workers. On September 28, PALEA workers were locked out of the operating system that oversees overall airline operations and were forcibly evicted from their work stations.

“This is the height of injustice,” Akbayan Representative Walden Bello said. “Tandaan natin, hindi lang dalawang libong tao ang pinaguusapan natin dito. Higit sa dalawang libong pamilyang Pilipinong nakaasa sa higit sa dalawang libong mga manggagawa ang maghihirap dahil sa ginagawa ng PAL.”

Bello also explained that the standoff between PALEA and management has deeper economic ramifications especially as the contractualization and outsourcing trends from the world economy wreak havoc on employment.

“If PAL wins, then I can assure you that Lucio Tan’s management style of contractualization and bankruptcy will plague the economy. It will become the end of regular jobs, and it will stifle the emergence of a robust middle class that will fuel the development of our economy,” Bello explained. “It is not the workers but Lucio Tan that the President should make accountable for economic sabotage.”

In conclusion, Bello expressed Akbayan’s commitment to stand with PALEA for as long as they will protest.

“Wala nang iniwan si Lucio Tan sa mga manggagawa ng PALEA maliban sa pinagsama-samang lakas ng kanilang mga tinig,” Bello ended. “Nakikiisa ang Akbayan sa PALEA, at lalo nating pagiigtingin ang panawagan ng bawat manggagawang Pilipino para sa regular na trabaho.”


Akbayan joins PALEA: PAL must be made accountable for bad management

Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello's Privilege Speech on the PAL Labor Dispute delivered last October 3, 2011
Akbayan is one with the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association in their protest against Lucio Tan and Philippine Airlines Management’s reckless outsourcing plan that threatens the welfare of almost 3,000 workers and their families. We decry PAL management’s removal of duly qualified workers way ahead of their scheduled termination, in the process replacing them with scabs or workers unfit for the job. We condemn Lucio Tan’s greed and PAL’s decision to prioritized profit margins over the welfare of workers.
Dear colleagues, I urge you to look closer into the events that led to PALEA’s September 27 protest action to determine if it is the management or the union that should be called into account.

PAL decided to outsource 2600 jobs in an effort, they say, to maintain the company’s financial viability and avoid losses, and according to a notice PAL gave the Department of Labor and Employment, following conciliation facilitated by no less than the office of the President itself, the termination of the said jobs would be effective on the close of business hours of September 30, 2011.

PAL management began firing employees on September 19, allegedly so that their subcontractors could process the employment of these workers. And in the run up to September 27, PAL management allowed for contractors and scabs to take over ground activities, and all of these are duly recorded by PALEA members. And because the spinoff plan was not to be implemented until October 1, then these actions could very well be considered provocative on the part of management. Let me just give you a few examples:

On September 23, at around 5 to 6 pm, the position of 15 check-in agents were taken by scabs.

On September 24, catering for the Philippine Airlines flight PR 426 to Fokouka, Japan was provided by outsourcing firm Macro-Asia.

On the same day, instead of having the ground crew handle the delivery and pick up of cargo, PAL had instead employed the services of Philippine Skylanders.

Dear colleagues, hindi pa po nagsisimula ang outsourcing plan ng PAL, ngunit unti-unti nang hindi pinapagtrabaho ang mga miyembro ng PALEA.

Finally, on September 27, PAL management illegally locked workers out of their jobs. Before lunch, workers entered their check-in codes into the system, which was supposed to grant them access to the operations of the airlines, only to find out that their respective codes had already been deactivated. At around 1 pm, people were being evicted from their work stations.

Clearly, dear colleagues, PAL acted on bad faith when it terminated employees as early as September 19 and locked out PALEA members on September 27. Clearly Lucio Tan has no respect for legally binding agreements, and clearly he has no respect for the rights of workers.

The workers took their last recourse and staged a peaceful protest, which is maintained up till today. And even as we speak dear colleagues, the police threaten to disperse them. At this point, the workers could only hope that this dispersal would not turn out to be as violent as the one the PNP and security group Centaur mounted on September 27.

Wala nang naiwan sa mga manggagawa ng PALEA maliban sa pinagsama-samang lakas ng kanilang mga tinig. Akbayan, with the force of the Philippine labor movement and civil society stand behind them, we continue to protest against Lucio Tan’s gross violation of their dignity and their rights.

Honorable colleagues, I also urge you to look into PAL’s justification for the spin off plan.

PAL alleged that they were suffering loses due to the unprecedented surge of fuel prices; the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) downgrading of the Philippines to Category II; the global recession of 2008; the European Union’s blacklisting of PAL; and the low-cost carriers. On December 2009, PAL holdings reported a total comprehensive loss for the nine months ended December 31, 2009 amounting to PHP1.9 billion, a decrease of 86% from the same period of the previous fiscal year of PHP13.8 billion.

However, by the time PAL had announced its plans for massive lay off in the second half of 2009, they had already the knowledge of the improvement of the company’s financial standing. In fact, it was reported in the company’s Quarterly report on June 30, 2009 that PAL’s operations contributed to a significant increase of 193% of PAL Holdings’ consolidated net income from operations, from a loss of PHP2.1 billion as of June 30,2008 to income of PHP2 billion in the current period. And this improvement was carried on to the following quarters.

Also, in March 2010, it was reported in the Business Mirror that PAL “sees revenues rising from $1.08 billion to $1.5 billion between end-December to March this year,” which PAL confirmed with the Philippine Stock Exchange. Even the International Air Transport Association vouched for these projections. Projections that would show PAL’s balance sheet improving.

Itanong natin kay Lucio Tan, Nasa’n na nga ang pagkaluging sinasabi ng PAL?

Dear colleagues, Akbayan also reiterates the position of the union in calling PAL to account for the fact that the contractors they decided to hire are in fact illegal companies doing labor-only subcontracting.

Maliban sa mga isyung ito, kailangang maintindihan nating hindi lang dalawang libo at anim na daang tao ang pinaguusapan natin. Alalahanin nating halos tatlong libong pamilyang Pilipinong nakaasa sa halos tatlong libong mga manggagawa ang maghihirap dahil sa desisyon ng PAL.

And it is precisely for all these reasons that PALEA took to the Court of Appeals to prevent the implementation of the outsourcing plan. And this is also why Akbayan joins PALEA in saying that unless all cases are resolved with finality, then PALEA workers should remain employed, and PAL be made to answer for all their transgressions. And indeed this has been the position that was taken by many organizations including the editorial of PDI that PAL should respect judicial outcome.

Dear colleagues I would like to turn your attention to the safety of the riding public that PAL compromises. Like most of us in this august chamber, I am a member of Mabuhay Miles, and when I say compromising the safety of the riding public, I also mean I fear for my own well-being as well as yours.

How can we trust an airline that leaves crucial work to operate their system to unqualified workers? We must note that after PAL management replaced duly qualified workers with scabs, one of the replacements damaged the door of an Airbus A340 with aircraft ID no. 3430 when he misused the airstep. This clearly reveals the grave danger that contractual labor relativlely ignorant of technical processes poses to the broader riding public. And while we should expect more of these mishaps as PAL “transitions” from duly qualified workers to scabs and unqualified contractors, we definitely should not allow it.

Finally, I would like to say that what we are seeing is not just a simple standoff between labor and management. What we are witnessing is a historic battle of the Philippine labor against contractualization. Dear colleagues, if PAL wins this battle then I can assure you that Lucio Tan’s style of contractualization and bankruptcy will plague the economy and so will labor troubles continue to emerge, al posing a problem for development

It is also because of this fear that I urge this august chamber to stand among the ranks of PALEA and the Philippine workers.

I congratulate House Committee on Labor Chairman, the Hon. Emil Ong for taking a stand with the workers, and I urge all of us to do the same. Likewise, I believe that President Aquino did the right thing in withdrawing the initial order for his legal team to investigate PALEA for economic sabotage. It is clear dear colleagues, and I am sure you would agree, it is not PALEA that is in the wrong here; it is Lucio Tan that must be made accountable for economic sabotage.

Let us investigate PAL management’s wanton violation of workers’ rights – evicting workers from their posts, and unduly terminating their employment is wrong, and they must be made accountable for that.

Second we must also investigate PAL’s practice of hiring unqualified workers to perform the tasks that require a certain level of technical knowledge and competency. This is especially crucial as it endangers the safety of passengers and of overall airline operations.

Finally, we must investigate the complicity of the PNP and the private security forces in the dispersal of workers and make them duly accountable for their transgressions.

Dear colleagues, when all our constituents are left with are their voices, then it is our duty as their representatives in Congress to act upon their woes.

Thank you.