Philippines: PALEA gets support of Qantas workers, labor groups abroad

The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) received the support of a Qantas labor union in Australia even as other labor groups abroad are staging solidarity actions. Similar to PALEA, Qantas workers are embroiled in a long-running dispute with management over job security, pay hikes and working conditions. Qantas flights have been disrupted by a series of strikes by Qantas engineers, ground staff and pilots.

“International support will go a long way in sustaining and winning PALEA’s fight,” asserted Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa (Labor Party - Philippines).

Last Friday, a delegation from UNITE HERE, a union of workers in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, and airport industries in the US and Canada, delivered a letter of concern to the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC. The delegation of five from UNITE HERE met Luzviminda Padilla, a labor attaché, who indicated that the letter will be forwarded to Ambassador Jose Cuisia.

The main point raised by UNITE HERE in its letter is that the Philippine government may be in violation of internationally recognized conventions protecting workers freedom of association, right to collective bargaining and right to peaceful concerted actions including strikes. Also brought up by UNITE HERE is the concern that airline service is deteriorating and moreover passenger safety is put at risk by the untrained and overworked replacement workers who are now operating flights of Philippine Airlines (PAL), including the transpacific route which conveys many US nationals.

On October 27, members of labor unions and representatives of the Filipino-American community will picket the Philippine consulate and PAL ticketing office in San Francisco, California. The picket will be led by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers which represents PAL customer agents working in the San Francisco airport. Last October 14, a delegation of Japanese railway workers picketed the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo and also submitted a letter of concern regarding PALEA’s plight.

In its message of solidarity, the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA), which represents Qantas engineers, declared that “all ALAEA members stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with PALEA in their ongoing battle and will support them in their fight against unjust treatment. We will also fully support your efforts through the International Transport Workers Federation with the linking of all international affiliates backing your full reinstatement.”

This week PALEA will hold a “Lakbay-Hustisya” or a long march around Metro Manila in order to bring its advocacy against contractualization to the grassroots level. “We will go to parishes and communities in Manila, Quezon City, Makati, Paranaque and Pasay to seek the support of ordinary Filipinos in the fight for regular jobs,” Rivera explained.

Labor Party - Philippines