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News :: Human Rights : International : Labor : Organizing : Social Welfare
Philippine Airline workers intensify protest actions
by PALEA, PM, APL, Akbayan, PLM
03 Oct 2011
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.”
PLM Statement on the struggle of PAL workers
By Party of the Laboring Masses (PLM)
Suportahan ang pakikibaka ng mga manggagawa sa PAL
Nananawagan kami sa pagkakaisa ng buong uring manggagawa. Lampasan ang pagkakahati-hati anuman ang mga dahilan nito – ideolohiya, apilasyon, at iba pa – at bigkisin ang hanay para isulong at ipagwagi ang pakikibaka ng mga manggagawa sa Philippine Air Lines (PAL).
Ang pakikibaka ng mga manggagawa sa PAL, sa pangunguna ng unyong Palea, ay pakikibaka ng lahat ng manggagawa. Laban ito sa walang patumanggang pagtatanggal ng regular na trabaho at pagpapalit dito ng trabahong kontraktwal sa kakapiranggot na sweldo at benepisyo.
Ang pakikibaka ng mga manggagawa sa PAL ay pagpapamalas ng pag-alpas ng dumaraming manggagawa sa ilusyon ng demokratiko at makataong gobyerno ni Pangulong Noynoy Aquino. Batid ng mga manggagawa sa PAL na walang nagawa ang bagong gobyerno para ipagtanggol ang kanilang mga karapatan. Sa halip, ang kinatigan ng gobyerno ay ang interes ng kapitalistang si Lucio Tan para panatilihin ang malaking tubo ng kompanya, kapalit ng pagpapababa ng sweldo at benepisyo ng mga manggagawa at pagkawala ng kanilang kasiguruhan sa trabaho.
Ang laban sa PAL ay mapagpasyang laban na siyang magtatakda ng tatakbuhin pang laban ng mga manggagawa. Kung ito ay magwawagi, mabibigyan ng pag-asa ang marami pang mga laban na gaya nito. Kung ito ay mabibigo, dadanas ng masidhing siphayo ang kilusang manggagawa na kasasadlakan sa mahabang panahon.
Tinatawagan namin ang lahat ng mga manggagawa, saanmang unyon o apilasyon kayo nabibilang, halina’t suportahan ang laban ng mga manggagawa sa PAL. Magmobilisa at sumama sa walang-tigil na piket sa harap ng Terminal 2 ng NAIA. Gayundin, hikayatin ang marami pa na magpahayag ng kanilang suporta sa pakikibaka ng mga manggagawa sa PAL.
Sa paglawak ng ating pagkakaisa, paghandaan rin ang posibilidad na mapalawak pa ang laban sa kapitalistang si Lucio Tan sa pamamagitan ng pagboykot sa PAL at iba pa niyang mga produkto.
Mabuhay ang mga manggagawa sa PAL!
Mabuhay ang uring manggagawa!
Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM)
This work is in the public domain