Friday, September 30, 2011

Labor groups to declare Aquino-Roxas tandem “Enemy of the Working Class” if they continue siding with tycoon Lucio Tan

30 September 2011

Organized labor would declare the Aquino-Roxas tandem an “Enemy of the Working Class” if the two leaders continue to side with tycoon Lucio Tan in the escalating labor dispute between the management of Philippine Airlines (PAL) and its union, the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA).

According to the labor group, Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), this is in response to President Aquino and DOTC Secretary Mar Roxas’ threat of filing a case of economic sabotage against PALEA members who participated in Tuesday’s peaceful protest action that led to the cancellation of PAL flights.

“PNoy and Mar, who were both out of the country at the height of the labor dispute and the devastations of typhoon Pedring, came back looking only at the culpabilities of PALEA for that few hour of peaceful action, but not of Lucio Tan who had been battering the rights of PAL workers for more than a decade now,” stated PM chair and co-chair of Church Labor Conference (CLC) Renato Magtubo.

Magtubo said that instead of throwing their weight against the “capitalist wang-wangs”, PNoy and Roxas did not even dare to ask Lucio Tan why PAL significantly reduced its flights even prior to the Tuesday protest and the implementation of outsourcing plan in October 1, and why it shut down the system which effectively locked out the PAL workers beginning 1:30 PM of September 27, 2011.

“Pnoy did not even ask his labor officials who have prior knowledge of what aggravating factors transpired at PAL’s work stations few days before PALEA took defensive actions against the management on Tuesday,” added Magtubo.   

The veteran labor leader said the crime of economic sabotage, he understands, pertains to illegal recruitment, syndicated estafa, and operation of black market, among others, and not for actions related to labor disputes. And if flight cancellations is a form of sabotage, then PAL is guilty of this crime

“We can only think of one explanation why President Aquino and Mar Roxas maintain a hostile attitude towards the workers despite the ligitimacy of their demands.  They both came from the country’s landed and elite capitalist class and who, in their lifetime, have never suffered the harsh conditions of life that confront ordinary laborers,” said Magtubo.

The Partido ng Manggagawa and the Church Labor Conference led today’s solidarity action for PALEA.  Some 300 members of PM-Cavite held a Lakbayan from Zapote Road in Bacoor to the Inflight Center near the gates of Centennial Terminal 2 where PALEA members are camping out.  Contigents from other labor and human rights groups have also joined the solidarity action.

Magtubo explained that the whole labor movement, the Church and human rights groups have all expressed their unequivocal support for PALEA’s struggle against mass layoff and contractualization.  He said the planned outsourcing defied the spirit of the Constitution, violates the Labor Code and ILO Convention’s guarantee on security of tenure, and undermines the PAL-PALEA CBA povision on prohibition of outsourcing.

The outsourcing plan will demote regular workers into contractuals, will cut their wage and benefits into half, and their security of tenure replaced by ‘fire-at-will” policy. 

The labor group said Pnoy ang Mar simply ignored these facts in dealing with the PAL labor dispute.

PALEA calls on PAL to resolve dispute as the outsourcing plan is a failure

Press Release
September 30, 2011

The Philippine Airline Employees Association (PALEA) holds a big protest at the airport today, the last day of work for 2,600 employees affected by the outsourcing plan of Philippine Airlines (PAL). PALEA challenged PAL to open talks in order to resolve the dispute in the face of continuing flight disruptions which the union claims is due to the failure of the outsourcing plan.

“It is as clear as day that the outsourcing plan is a failure and PAL does not have the manpower to normalize its operations. We call on PAL to end the lockout of its employees and halt the premature implementation of the outsourcing plan pending the final decision of the courts,” stated Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa.

PALEA is calling on its members to report for duty at the protest campout at the gates of the PAL In-Flight Center. The protest will start with a 3:00 p.m. march from the Our Lady of the Airways Parish (OLAP) to the In-Flight Center. Labor and church groups supporting PALEA will join the protest at OLAP. At 5:00 pm a mass will be officiated then leaders of PALEA and allied groups will speak about the problem of contractualization.

In response to the claim of Transportation and Communications Secretary Mar Roxas that PALEA reneged on a promise not to hold a protest during typhoon, Rivera once more clarified that they only agreed to coordinate street rallies in advance so that traffic can be managed. “As to a protest at our workplaces, of course we will not coordinate it with them. If we did that, then PAL and the police will not even allow us to enter the airport and offices. Look at what they did during our protest, they forcibly evicted employees and hurt some in the process,” he elaborated.

Rivera added “But it must be remembered that we repeatedly warned the public that PALEA will hold a protest that will paralyze PAL’s operations. Apparently nobody believed our warning especially since PAL kept on assuring passengers that no flight disruption will happen. So now who is to blame for the inconvenience?”

PALEA announced that more protests are scheduled and that today’s big protest is not a “last hurrah.” Rivera insisted that “The protest is already spreading to the outlying stations with rallies to be held today in Bacolod and Davao, and the tomorrow in Cebu. The fight against layoff and contractualization will continue until PAL’s lockout is ended and PAL employees return to their regular jobs. The protest will take different forms in the coming days such as another PALEA family day to involve our spouses and children in the issue. We will be campaigning too in the campuses to inform the youth about the pernicious impact of contractualization on our nation’s future.”

Thursday, September 29, 2011

PALEA dismisses economic sabotage, illegal strike cases; announces big protest tomorrow

Press Release
September 29, 2011

The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) dismissed threats of an economic sabotage case from the government and an illegal strike suit from the management of Philippine Airlines (PAL). “We are confident that PALEA’s protest against contractualization last Tuesday is within the bounds of the Constitutionally-guaranteed right to seek redress of grievances,” declared Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).

PALEA also announced that they will hold a big protest at the airport tomorrow which is the last day of work for 2,600 PAL employees affected by the outsourcing plan. The union has already set up a protest camp outside the PAL In-Flight Center along
MIA Road
near Terminal 2 where several hundred PALEA members are staying at any one time. “We call on PALEA members to report for duty at the protest camp since PAL has locked us out of our workplace at Terminal 2 and other offices,” Rivera proclaimed.

Meanwhile the protest against outsourcing is escalating as PAL employees in outlying stations gear up to hold their own protests. Tomorrow PALEA and other labor groups are scheduled to hold rallies in Davao at the international airport and in Bacolod at the old airport. On October 1, a similar broad coalition of labor groups including PALEA will stage a Lakbayan from Cebu City to the Mactan International Airport at Lapu-Lapu City.

Rivera asserted that “We consider these threats as mere scare tactics that will not weaken the defiance of PALEA against the layoff and contractualization scheme of PAL. PAL employees are not stupid. We know the law.”

He explained that the penal provisions of Republic Act No. 9497 or the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines Act of 2008 refers to the disruption of airport services and damage to airport facilities, and does not pertain to stoppage of airline operations. “The airport itself and an airline company are two different entities. If R.A. 9497 prohibits protests and strikes at a private airline such as PAL then it contradicts the provisions of the Labor Code on the right to strike. But it does not. PAL employees are private sector workers that are expressly allowed by law to hold concerted actions and even go on strike,” Rivera contended.

However he reiterated that PALEA merely held a protest and did not hold a strike. “Goodluck to PAL if it can argue its illegal strike case. But we know it is just a threat intended to frighten PAL employees, similar to its repeated warning of administrative cases against protesting workers,” Rivera claimed.

He added that “Whoever advised PNoy on the economic sabotage case should be outsourced. The facts are clear that it was PAL which shutdown the company’s computer systems and other communication facilities immediately after the start of the protest, and then cancelled the flights that stranded passengers.”

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

PALEA: PNoy should push PAL to open talks to resolve issue not threaten protesting workers

Press Release
September 28, 2011

The Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) dismissed President Benigno Aquino’s announcement that government is considering filing a case of economic sabotage against the union as it vowed to continue the protest against contractualization. Almost a thousand PALEA members and their supporters from church and labor groups are now picketing the PAL In-Flight Center along
MIA Road
near Terminal 2.

“Instead of asking Philippine Airlines to open talks with PALEA on how to resolve the dispute, now threatens workers in protest to air their grievances. Apparently PNoy’s boss is Lucio Tan not ordinary workers,” said Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM)

Rivera also contested President Aquino’s claim that PALEA had promised to provide a 24-hour notice for its protest action. “We do not know where he got that. But it is fact that PALEA had repeatedly called on PAL to resolve the dispute but to no avail. Thus PALEA announced publicly that it will hold a protest without notice but PAL foolishly dismissed our declaration and instead assured the public that disruption of flights will not happen,” Rivera asserted.

He added that “The loss of job is also economic sabotage by a capitalist to the worker. PAL is guilty of 2,600 counts of economic sabotage. Why is PNoy not considering that?”

PALEA says protest continues, vows fight not over

Press Release
September 28, 2011

The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) declared that the protest against layoff and contractualization continues with some 400 Philippine Airlines (PAL) employees picketing the In-Flight Center along
MIA Road
near Terminal 2.

“The fight is not over. Yesterday PAL employees showed that they are solidly in defiance of the layoff and outsourcing plan. While PAL and the government revealed that they will use overwhelming force to break workers’ legitimate protest,” asserted Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).

PALEA condemned the forcible eviction since yesterday afternoon up to early this morning of hundreds of PAL employees in peaceful protest at the Terminal 2, international cargo terminal and catering department. PAL employees Kathleen Yumol, Rhonan Alonzo, Christian Concepcion were hurt in the dispersal at Terminal 2 led by a combined force of hundreds of Centaur security guards and PNP personnel led by Col. Dionalo Antallan.

PALEA also slammed as scabs the replacement workers brought in by PAL after the eviction. The door of an Airbus A340 with aircraft ID 3430 was damaged when a reliever who was an unlicensed PAL staff misused the airstep. “This accident reveals the dangers of inexperienced contractual employees at work. We know that passengers were inconvenienced by the protest but they should understand that airline safety and efficiency is ensured by regular not contractual labor,” Rivera claimed.

A solidarity forum for PALEA sponsored by the Archdiocesan Ministry for Labor Concerns (AMLC) will be held today from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the Our Lady of the Airways Parish (OLAP) to be attended by priest and sisters in the Manila archdiocese and representatives of parish pastoral councils, campus ministries, social service coordinators and lay organizations. Last night PALEA and PM members in Cebu staged a rally at the Mactan International Airport in support of the protest vs. layoff and contractualization.

Rivera also criticized Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, who reports said was to coordinate government efforts to resolve the labor dispute. “Ochoa apparently relinquished control to PAL management as it was they ordering PNP personnel and airport police in dispersal operations. Ever since, as author of the Office of the President decision on the outsourcing case, Ochoa has exacerbated rather than resolved the labor row,” he elaborated.

The union blamed PAL for the inconvenience experienced by the public. “PALEA has repeatedly asked PAL to resolve the labor dispute to no avail. Thus PALEA had advised the public of the protest to be held at anytime but PAL foolishly dismissed our warning and kept on assuring passengers that operations will not be disrupted,” Rivera explained.

He added that “We were forced to hold the protest despite typhoon Pedring since PAL had been bringing in scabs and displacing regular employees since last week ahead of the effectivity date of the termination. We hope that PAL’s passengers, especially the overseas workers, appreciate that the typhoon of contractualization is also a national disaster not just to PAL employees but all Filipino laborers.”

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Chronology of the PAL-PALEA Dispute

The Start of the Dispute over Outsourcing
On August 26, 2009, in a LMCC meeting between the management and the union, PAL announced its intention to spin-off/outsource the following departments: Information Technology, Human Resources, Benefits, Legal, Medical, Airport Services, Catering, Reservations, Ticket Offices, and Revenue Accounting etc. It cited losses incurred by the company. In that meeting, the old leadership of the PALEA requested that the plan be kept a secret to managers and union members.
PAL President Jaime Bautista formalized its communication to the union on September 9, 2009 by way of a letter stating therein the intention of the management to spin-off/outsource the Airport Services Department and Catering Department. The same was to become effective on November 15, 2009.
On September 10 and 11, 2009, the previous PALEA leadership reminded PAL management that the one year extension of CBA suspension is due to expire. The union thus formally notified the company of its intention to re-negotiate the remaining four years of the collective bargaining agreement (2009-2013). During the LMCC meetings that ensued, PALEA stressed that the CBA negotiation is the most appropriate venue to thresh out unresolved issues on the planned outsourcing.
Due to the divergent positions of the parties, the union filed on September 22, 2009 with the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) a Notice of Preventive Mediation citing union busting as the sole and principal issue which was docketed as NCMB-NCR-PM-09-126-09. Several conciliation meetings were held between September 25, 2009 and October 5, 2009. The parties did not reach any agreement on the issue of outsourcing.
Meanwhile, in September 2009, PAL offered an Early Retirement Program to its managers and administrative personnel. The same program was made optional and voluntary to the rank-and-file employees.
Without significant progress in the conciliation conferences, on January 28, 2010, PALEA withdrew the Notice of Preventive Mediation and filed a Notice of Strike on the ground of union busting, particularly: (1) Intended mass lay-off of union members and officers by April 2010; (2) Illegal outsourcing of regular positions; (3) Direct negotiations with union members for them to avail of the ERP with promise of re-employment; (4) Unresolved issues during preventive mediation/LMCC; (5) Non-compliance with payscale, item II of the wage distortion case; and (6) Others.
New Officers Lead the Fight
Meantime, from February 17 to 25, 2010, a local union election was held. The new set of officers assumed their official functions on March 29, 2010. The new PALEA leadership had not yet warmed up to their responsibilities when on April 16, 2010, the PAL President issued a letter informing the union of the complete closure of several departments of the company and abolition of all affected regular positions by May 31, 2010.
PAL management announced that 2,604 regular employees were sent notices of termination through registered mail. The new leadership initiated successive protest actions on April 19 and 23, 2010.
On the day of the last protest action, then DOLE Secretary Marianito Roque issued an Assumption of Jurisdiction Order (AJ) which was received by the union on April 26, 2010 and by the management on April 27, 2010. The management, on April 26 and 27, 2010 issued the Notices of Termination.
Mediation/conciliation hearings were held on April 30, 2010 and May 7, 2010. Then Usec. Rosalinda Baldoz chaired the hearings. In the last hearing, the parties agreed that the AJ issued by the DOLE suspended the effects of the Notice of Termination. The parties submitted their respective position papers, replies, rejoinders and motions on May 17, May 27 and June 7, 2010.
Lagman’s Midnight Decision
After eight calendar days from the submission of the Rejoinder on June 15, 2010, and despite the pendency of the Motion for the Production of Documents filed by the union, the Acting Secretary of Labor Romeo Lagman rendered a decision adverse to PALEA. The dispositive portion of the decision reads:
“WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Office holds that the intended closure of the Philippine Airlines In-Flight Catering operations, Airport Services Operations and Call Center Reservations Operations and the consequent severance from employment of all affected employees as reported to the DOLE Regional Offices, as well as the contracting out of the these operations to the named service providers, are based on lawful ground and all in a valid exercise of managerial prerogative and as such valid and lawful in all respects.”
PALEA condemned the decision of the Acting Secretary as a midnight decision. On June 22, 2010, around 300 members of PALEA conducted a two-hour protest rally in front of the DOLE office in Intramuros.
PALEA Challenges PNoy on the Dispute
The next day around 600 PALEA members trooped to the residence of then President-elect Benigno Aquino at Times St., Quezon City. A letter accompanied by the case documents were delivered and received by the staff of the President. Among other things, PALEA appealed for the following:
1.      Presidential intervention in the PAL-PALEA dispute
2.      Cleansing of corrupt officials in the Department of Labor and Employment
3.      Reform of the policy regarding contractual employment.
PALEA filed its Motion for Reconsideration to Lagman’s decision on June 28, 2010. The filing was accompanied by a protest action that was attended by more or less 300 union members. PALEA argued that the retrenchment of almost 3,000 regular rank-and-file employees who are union members, including union officers, is invalid and constitutive of Unfair Labor Practice because:
1.                  It violates the law and the parties’ CBA
a.                  The termination of the regular employees is not necessitated by the company’s financial situation.
b.                  PAL violated the CBA provision against Labor Contracting.
c.                  PAL violated the CBA provision on Job Security.
2.                  It violates Article 248 of the Labor Code, and Department Order No. 18-02. Despite PAL’s insistence, what it planned to do was not a “spin-off” but an “outsourcing” which is equivalent to contracting-out of services.
PALEA maintained that the real intention of PAL in pursuing its planned mass lay-off is to contractualize the regular positions now existing in the company with the ultimate motive of busting the union.
Meantime, the union embarked on a lobbying campaign. Institutions such as the clergy, academe and Congress were involved. International alliances like the International Transports Workers Federation (ITF) were also tapped in the campaign.
As a result of the lobbying, a privilege speech was delivered by TUCP Party-list Representative Raymond Mendoza on August 9, 2010. The next day, PALEA was invited to a mini hearing by the House Committee on Labor.
On August 20, 2010, a conciliation conference was called by the new DOLE Sec. Rosalinda Baldoz. In said hearing, the management manifested that “it shall await the resolution of the Motion for Reconsideration” filed by the Union. PALEA, on the other hand, manifested that it prefers that conciliation meetings be held further. The Union, however, manifested that management should first scrap its plan to terminate employees.
By September 2, PALEA, through the its legal counsels, received the documents previously demanded, by way of Motion to Produce Documents, but completely denied by then Sec. Romeo Lagman. These were PAL’s financial statement for 2009-10, the contracts signed by the Company with Sky Kitchen and ePLDT Ventus, which were two of the service providers. However the contract between PAL and Sky Logistics, the service provider of the ground handling was not presented by PAL.
PALEA submitted its comments to the above-mentioned documents on September 14, 2010. Notably, the financial statement provided by the Company showed that PAL is no longer on the red. It had financially recovered and in fact already registered an income.
The union thus petitioned the Labor Secretary to reverse the decision of former Acting Secretary Lagman and issue a new decision:
1.      Declaring the intended retrenchment/closure of the various department of PAL as illegal;
2.      Declaring PAL guilty of unfair labor practice.
Baldoz’ Halloween Massacre
Labor Secretary Baldoz rendered her decision affirming the earlier decision on October 29, 2010 but an official copy was only received by the PALEA legal counsels on November 2, 2010.
The Notice of Order reads, in part:
          Wherefore, the Motion for Reconsideration filed by PALEA is hereby DENIED and the Decision of the Acting Secretary of Labor and Employment dated 15 June 2010 is hereby AFFIRMED, with MODIFICATION that the following components of the Transition Benefits Package shall be given to all affected employees:
a)     All employees affected by outsourcing of In-Flight Catering, Airport Services, and Call Center Reservations Operations shall be absorbed by the respective service providers and PAL shall be bound and held liable by way of guarantee in favor of all affected employees, for payment for one year, of whatever salary is granted respectively by the service providers upon their admission to employment with said service providers;
b)     Increase in separation pay in the amount of 1.25% per year of service;
c)      Additional gratuity of fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) per affected employee;
d)     Vacation Leave balance that is 100% commutable to cash regardless of years of service;
e)     Sick Leave balance that is 100% commutable to cash regardless of years of service;
f)       Trip pass benefits in accordance with Article XX of the CBA and the PAL Personnel Policies and Procedures Manual, graduated under the following terms:
15 years in service and more                             Lifetime
10-15 years                                                    8 sets
5-10 years                                                     5 sets
Less than 5 years                                            2 sets
g)     Extension of one (1) year of the medical and hospitalization package based on Articles XIII to XV of the CBA and consistent with the (1) year period that PAL guarantees payment of the affected workers’ salaries, as provided in item (a).

PALEA and its allied labor organization condemned the Labor Secretary’s ruling as “Halloween massacre.” They held a symbolic protest at the DOLE by laying makeshift crosses and coffins.

A few days after the Notice of Order was issued, PAL managers started convincing union members to adhere to the decision. Thus, PALEA filed a Notice of Strike (NOS) with the DOLE based on the following grounds of unfair labor practices:
1.      Individual bargaining with union members tantamount to interference with, restraint, and coercion of employees in their exercise of their rights to self-organization;
2.      Mass termination of Union officers amounting to Union Busting.
As an offshoot of the Notice of Strike filed by the Union, series of conciliation conferences were held under the auspices of the DOLE.
Meanwhile on November 8, 2010, a broad-labor press conference was attended by big labor organizations expressing support to the cause of PALEA. A congressional inquiry ensued on November 10, 2010. The issues were focused on the validity of the termination of 2,600 employees on the basis of management prerogative to outsource.
Presidential Intervention
On November 12, 2010, PALEA filed a Petition for Presidential Intervention in the labor row. The petition was based on the power of the President (1) to intervene and assume direct jurisdiction over any labor dispute involving industries that, in his opinion, are indispensable to the national interest; and (2) to determine such industries.
In the petition, PALEA raised the issue that “the Secretary of Labor and Employment” committed grave error in her findings of facts and in the application of law and jurisprudence in denying the motion for reconsideration of PALEA.
The union thus asked:
“Wherefore, it is respectfully prayed that the Honorable Office of the President directly intervene and assume jurisdiction over the labor dispute in Philippine Airlines, Inc. relating to the mass termination of more than 2,600 regular employees, and issue an Order:
1.                  Directing PAL to stop from prematurely implementing the 29 October 2010 Order of the Secretary of Labor and Employment, and from committing other acts that will exacerbate the dispute;
2.                  Reversing the 29 October 2010 Order of the Secretary of Labor and Employment; and
3.                  Declaring PAL guilty of unfair labor practice for the implementation of the mass termination of more than 2,600 regular employees.
4.                  Other just and equitable reliefs are likewise prayed for.”
Subsequently, on November 15, 2010, the Union and the legal counsels had a meeting with the Executive Secretary (ES) of the President. The meeting was exploratory in nature. The Secretary floated possible settlements between the parties. PALEA , however, stood firm on its position that the outsourcing has no legal basis.
In unity with the cause of PALEA, big labor groups staged a National Day of Action for the Protection of Regular Jobs and against Contractual Employment on November 25, 2010 at the country’s premier business
District of Ayala Ave., Makati
In the intermediate period, PAL management continued to convince members to avail of the decision of the DOLE in relation to outsourcing. A strike vote was conducted on December 7, 2010. A solid 86% of the votes cast affirmed the holding of the strike.
Before the result of the strike vote could be reported to the DOLE, the Office of the President issued an AJ mandating management and the union to desist from undertaking any action that may aggravate the situation. Thereby, the decision of the DOLE dated June 15, 2010 and October 29, 2010 were ordered put on hold.
The Fight over a New CBA
On February 3, 2011, as ordered by the Office of the President, PAL and PALEA appeared in a conciliation meeting mediated by Sec. Ronald Llamas, ASec. Rolando Geron and ASec. Jose Amorado. In said meeting, PAL admitted for the first time that the financial condition of the Company is not the main reason but just one of the reasons for the outsourcing program. The management also raised the issue of “a global trend in the airline industry” and that the program is within the scope of their “management prerogative.”
On the other hand, PALEA interposed that the issues may be discussed in the collective bargaining negotiations. In the meeting PALEA argued that the CBA has not been renegotiated for almost thirteen (13) years, and that PALEA already submitted its CBA proposal way back on October 8, 2010.
It also mentioned that last January 27, 2011, after the LMCC meeting between the management and the union, no less than the PAL President and COO, advised the union officers for PAL and PALEA to start the CBA negotiations. Accordingly, on January 31, 2011, PALEA President, wrote the management and furnished therein the union’s negotiation panel. A follow-up letter was sent to the management on February 4, 2011. However, there was no reply from the management.
In that conciliation conference, the PAL President informed those present that the company will negotiate the CBA only after the outsourcing program has been implemented. The union opposed and asserted that the CBA negotiations should immediately commence.
Also, in the said conciliation meeting, the management agreed and promised to furnish the Office of the President and the Union, PAL’s unaudited quarterly financial report for the 1st and 2nd quarters of fiscal year 2010-2011. On February 14, 2011, PALEA’s legal counsels received the copy of the financial reports.
The report revealed that PAL posted a comprehensive income of US$31.6M for the 1st quarter and US$28.2M for the 2nd quarter. Sometime in June 2010, PAL was also able to pay it maturing financial obligation to its creditors in the amount of USD$46.5M. Later PAL reported a comprehensive income of US$15.1M in the 3rd quarter of the current fiscal year ending March 2011.
Last February 17, 2011, PALEA received a letter dated February 16, 2011 from the PAL President which reads in part: ”Considering the pendency of the case relative to the spin-off/outsourcing of the Inflight Catering Services operations, Airport Services (i.e. ground handling, cargo terminal/cargo handling and ramp handling) and Call Center Reservations, before the Office of the President, we are constrained to temporarily hold in abeyance the commencement of the new PAL-PALEA CBA negotiations.”
Second Strike Vote on Refusal to Bargain
PALEA saw this as management’s refusal to bargain and a violation of the law. Thus on March 7, 2011, the union filed a Notice of Strike at the NCMB for unfair labor practice due to the management’s refusal to bargain.
On the same day, a notice of conference was received by the PALEA from the NCMB setting the conciliation meeting on March 9, 2011. In that conciliation conference, PAL management was adamant on its position that the CBA negotiation is held in abeyance pending the resolution of the issue of outsourcing in the Office of the President. For its part, PALEA maintained that the issues involved in the Notice of Strike is a totally separate and distinct issue from the issues now pending at the OP. Collective bargaining negotiations is a guaranteed right of the workers by the Constitution and an obligation on the part of the management. There is, thus, a clear proof that of management refusing to bargain, PALEA insisted.
Another marathon conciliation conference was held on March 14, 2011 in the NCMB lasting almost five hours. In the conference, management manifested its willingness to continue the CBA negotiation process and to submit its counter-proposal within (2) weeks.
On the other hand, PALEA clarified that it does not agree that the outsourcing issue should not be subject to CBA and the proposed that the CBA contain provisions on spin-off/outsourcing which are central to the resolution of the outsourcing case currently pending. Further, the union manifested that until such time that the management submits its counter-proposal, the issue is not resolved. The CBA negotiation can proceed independently without any pre-conditions.
On March 25, 2011 another conciliation conference was held. On the same date, PALEA submitted to the DOLE the results of the second strike vote. A 96% majority voted for a strike that may commence on April 1.
Strike Stopped by Another AJ
However, on this very same date, the OP thru Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, issued an order in relation to the Petition for Presidential Intervention filed by the Union. It affirmed in toto the decision of the DOLE with the modification that the gratuity pay was increased from Php50,000 to Php100,000. Said order was leaked to the media on very same date prior to the official receipt of the Union. PAL also came up with press releases welcoming and commending the President
As promised, PALEA received the copy of the CBA counter-proposal of the PAL management on March 28, 2011. The cover letter stated, “It is understood that the counter-proposal shall cover only those rank and file employees within the bargaining unit to be left behind after the spin-off/outsource of the three (3) above-mentioned departments (referring to ASD, Catering and Reservations).”
Marathon conciliation meetings were called by the DOLE from March 29 to April 1, 2011. On the last day, the parties ended the meeting past 5:00pm without any specific agreement. The parameters outlined by the DOLE through Usec. Hans Cacdac for the CBA negotiations hinged on the “good faith of the parties and that the present leadership and the collective bargaining unit of the Union should be recognized by the PAL management.”
On the night of April 1, 2011, PALEA staged a prayer rally attended by a various labor organizations. Some 2,000 PALEA members also participated. After the rally, when the officers were on caucus to assess the impact of the activities, an AJ was endorsed by a union staff purportedly left behind by a DOLE staff on that same night.
The Notice of Order dated April 1, 2011 reads, in part:
“This Office hereby CERTIFIES the labor dispute between PAL and PALEA to the National Labor Relations Commission for immediate Compulsory Arbitration. Accordingly, any intended strike or lockout or any form of concerted action is hereby automatically enjoined.”
The very next day PALEA announced to the public through the mass media that, left without any alternative and its rights violated by no less the government, it plans to test the law and if it is necessary, the AJ order will be defied.
Dispute over Temporary Outsourcing Scheme
PALEA did not boycott the proceeding before the National Labor Relations Commission and attended the hearings. As the NLRC heard the case, a new dispute arose over management’s attempts to implement a temporary or partial outsourcing.
Last May 30, PAL informed PALEA of an acute manpower shortage for passenger handling due to the exodus of customer service agents who have sought greener pastures abroad and asked for the union’s cooperation in allowing Lucio Tan-owned service provider MacroAsia to work the departure gates for a period of six months.
PALEA rejected outright the proposal and suggested instead that the vacant positions be filled up by direct hiring instead of outsourcing to a service provider. PALEA even offered to help in rehiring former PAL employees and recalling trainees who were not hired due to a freeze hiring program. Discussions between PAL and PALEA on these stop gap measures proceeded and last June 9 the union submitted a partial list of people interested in the position of customer service agents.
PALEA considers the temporary outsourcing of regular jobs to MacroAsia as a backdoor implementation of the controversial contractualization plan and a violation of the April 1 order of the Labor Secretary enjoining management and the union from engaging in any act that will exacerbate the labor dispute at PAL. On June 13, PALEA held a motorcade to protest PAL’s plan to hire on June 16 contractual workers from Lucio Tan-owned service provider MacroAsia.
The issue did not result to serious dispute as PAL acceded to PALEA’s demand and directly hired people from MacroAsia as employees of the flag carrier.
With Philippine Airlines (PAL) reporting a net yearly income of USD 72.5 million, PALEA once more petitioned the government to stop the outsourcing plan of management and order it to begin negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). This was contained in manifestations by PALEA to the Office of the President (OP) and the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) filed on August 3, 2011. Aside from PAL’s big income, PALEA also cited in its manifestation the 14% increase in total current asset, decrease in the company’s total liabilities, 176% increase in equity among its shareholders, and even the growth of the flag carrier’s fleet to 51 aircraft.
But just a week after the manifestation, the OP released its decision on PALEA’s motion for reconsideration. In a decision dated August 11, the Office of the President (OP) denied the motion for reconsideration of the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) and affirmed its earlier ruling allowing Philippine Airlines to lay off 2,600 employees and make them contractual workers in third-party service providers.
PALEA slammed the ruling as “PNoy’s fire-all-you-can policy” and “a second-rate trying-hard copycat of American industrial relations where giant money-making corporations can layoff at will” The union asserted that the decision overturned the provisions of the Labor Code and jurisprudence of the Courts that serious financial losses are a necessary ground for retrenchment.
PAL management invited PALEA to a dialogue on the implementation of the outsourcing plan but the latter rejected the overture. PALEA declared that it is willing to discuss measures for PAL’s growth that will not involve retrenchment. It once more offered to PAL that the outsourcing plan be subject to collective bargaining negotiations instead of being unilaterally imposed on employees.
As of the moment PAL management has announced that it will hold town hall meetings to inform employees about the mechanics of the outsourcing including the application process to the service providers. PALEA meanwhile has started protests actions such as wearing black ribbons at work and mass actions in the streets to drum up support.
The union has declared that it will act accordingly should management prematurely implement the outsourcing plan. PALEA asserts that OP ruling is yet executory pending final judicial resolution of the case.

PALEA members forcibly evicted from check-in counters

At the Terminal 2 check-in counters, Centaur security guards and airport police have forcibly evicted PAL employees—many of them women—who have linked up in arms in defense of their ranks. PAL employees Kathleen Yumol, Rhonan Alonzo, Christian Concepcion hurt in the dispersal by combined private security guards and airport police led by Col. Dionalo Antallan

PNP personnel also padlocked the gates of the Our Lady of the Airways Parish grounds where more than 200 PALEA supporters from Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) and other groups are holding a program. After PALEA’s legal counsels intervened, the gates were opened by police are still physically blocking the gates. OLAP's Monsignor has allowed the protesters to hold a mass and stay at the grounds.

Meanwhile PALEA and PM members in Cebu staged a rally at the Mactan International Airport in support of the protest action vs. layoff and contractualization.

PALEA starts protest action vs. lockout

Press Release
September 27, 2011

The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) started at around 7:00 a.m. today a protest action against the impending lockout on October 1 of 2,600 employees of Philippine Airlines (PAL). “PALEA has decided to act now instead of waiting for the onslaught of the outsourcing typhoon on Friday. This is the mother of all protests against layoff and contractualization.  Nobody will go home and we will not back down until our demand for job security is met,” announced Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).

PAL employees in the departments to be outsourced—airport services, in-flight catering and call center reservations—are leading the protest action. While most PALEA members remain inside their workplaces, off-duty employees will be picketing PAL offices at the airport.

“We call on PAL to begin talks for a settlement to the labor dispute. PALEA demands a stop to the outsourcing plan. We call for the opening of negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). In the CBA negotiations, we can discuss measures to make PAL viable except outsourcing,” Rivera stated.

The PAL-PALEA CBA has remained suspended for 13 years since 1998. PALEA has a case against PAL for refusal to bargain that is pending at the National Labor Relations Commission.

Supporters of PALEA have also started to assemble in solidarity with the protest action. Church and labor groups plan to march up to the PAL In-Flight Center along
MIA Road
and also to set up a protest camp at the Our Lady of the Airways Parish at the corner of
Sucat Road
MIA Road

“We are calling on our brothers and sisters in the labor movement, our allies in the Church and other sectors, the families of PAL employees, our fellow workers in the communities around the airport and every Filipino who opposes contractualization to gather in solidarity with PALEA in its moment of need,” appealed Renato Magtubo, PM national chair.

PALEA meanwhile asked for the understanding of the public. “Any inconvenience brought about by the protest is temporary. Ultimately the safe and efficient operation of PAL is guaranteed if employees are regular not contractual. It is up to PAL to settle the dispute and prevent further difficulties to passengers and clients of the flag carrier,” Rivera insisted.

He explained that “PAL is determined and desperate in implementing the lockout of employees. Starting last week, even before the effectivity date of the termination on Friday, PAL has been employing scabs and displacing regular employees. PAL has pushed us to the wall. We are left with no choice but to hold this protest action.”

Monday, September 26, 2011

Church groups to hold solidarity forum on PALEA

Press Release
September 26, 2011

Church groups led by the Manila Archdiocesan Ministry for Labor Concerns (AMLC) is sponsoring a forum on the labor dispute at Philippine Airlines (PAL) in order to garner solidarity for the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) as the effectivity date of the termination of 2,600 workers loom large.

Meanwhile PALEA claimed that the defiance of PAL employees to the outsourcing plan is the real reason behind the flight cancellations announced by the flag carrier last Saturday. PAL said that it is cutting domestic flights by 30% and international flights by 12%. “PAL cannot operate on a 100% basis since they were not able to cajole and coerce enough employees to sign up for the service providers. No more than 15% of the affected workers have accepted the separation offer and even less than 7% have applied for work in the providers. PAL’s outsourcing plan cannot fly,” asserted Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).

He added that “This fact also exposes the myth that the departments to be outsourced are non-core operations. If they are not essential to the business of flying, then how come PAL has to cut down flights due to the difficulties faced by the outsourcing plan?”

“We find that the action of PAL to contract-out the services of 2,600 workers is against the Catholic social teachings which promote dignity of work because of the principle of ‘Man over material things, Labor over Capital,’” declared Fr. Erik Adoviso, head of the AMLC which is an office under the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila.

The solidarity forum for PALEA will be held on Wednesday afternoon at the Paco Catholic School. Aside from Rivera and Adoviso, the main speakers at the forum will be Fr. Marlon Lacal of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines and Renato Magtubo of PM. Representatives of parish pastoral councils, campus ministries, social service coordinators and lay organizations are expected to attend aside from priest and sisters in the Manila archdiocese. Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, head of the CBCP-National Secretariat for Social Action and staunch PALEA supporter, will not be able to attend as he is abroad as of the moment.

PALEA legal counsels on the other hand are preparing complaints to be filed as incidents of scabs performing work of PAL employees continues to pile up. PALEA has reported that personnel of MacroAsia, a service provider owned by Lucio Tan, have tried servicing the catering requirements of Japan-bound flights. Also that PAL managers and non-PAL staff attempted to check-in passengers of flights to Cebu and Davao.

“We think serious violations not just of the labor code but of airport security and civil aviation regulations are occurring due to the entry of non-licensed personnel from other PAL departments and outside companies such as MacroAsia. We appeal to PAL to resolve the present labor dispute in order to prevent any inconvenience to its passengers and clients. But should PAL refuse to hear its employees’ legitimate grievances, then PALEA has no recourse but to fight back and defend our regular jobs,” Rivera insisted.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

PALEA slams PAL for employing scabs

Commotion at Terminal 2 tarmac 24 Sept 2011
Press Release
September 25, 2011

The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) today slammed Philippine Airlines (PAL) for illegally employing “scabs” in its operations. Yesterday a commotion occurred at the Terminal 2 tarmac as PALEA members confronted personnel of MacroAsia, a Lucio Tan-owned service provider, who were operating PAL catering trucks and planning to service Japan-bound flights of PAL. PALEA members were able to convince the MacroAsia employees to leave but airport police later arrived to investigate the incident.

“It is illegal for PAL to contract out jobs performed by its regular workers. Further, these workers are in effect scabs hired by PAL in the context of its labor dispute with PALEA. PALEA considers such incidents as provocations by PAL ahead of its impending lockout of workers on October 1,” stated Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa.

He explained that PAL has announced reductions in flights and has been forced to use other service providers or non-PALEA personnel since the outsourcing plan is facing difficulties. “Less than 15% of the affected employees have accepted the separation package and even less than 7% have signed up for work in the service providers Sky Logistics, Sky Kitchen and SPI Global. The outsourcing plan cannot fly,” Rivera insisted.

Also last Thursday, 15 managers and non-PALEA staff tried to check-in passengers bound for Cebu and Davao but were challenged by PALEA members in the passenger handling department. The managers and non-PALEA staff backed down and left.

“PALEA is already consulting our legal counsels on appropriate complaints to be filed. We believe serious violations not just of the labor code but of airport security and civil aviation regulations are occurring due to the entry of non-licensed personnel from other PAL departments and outside companies such as MacroAsia,” Rivera elaborated.

He added that “We call on personnel of MacroAsia, PAL staff from other departments and employees from outlying stations in the provinces who have been brought in supposedly for training to refrain from being used as scabs by management.”

As can be gleaned from postings on the union’s Sulong PALEANS! Facebook account, tensions are rising in the airport as employees continue to defy PAL’s outsourcing plan while management prepares for the intended lockout by the end of the month. One of the recent postings reveal that weight and balance functions—a critical pre-flight procedure—for Cebu and Davao flights were done remotely in Cebu and Davao respectively. The posting claims that safety is being compromised as a result.

“We appeal to PAL to resolve the present labor dispute in order to prevent any inconvenience to its passengers and clients. It should stop the outsourcing plan and instead open collective bargaining negotiations with the union. PALEA is open to discuss measures to make PAL viable except outsourcing. But should PAL refuse to hear its employees’ legitimate grievances, then PALEA has no recourse but to fight back and defend our regular jobs” Rivera insisted.

Friday, September 23, 2011

PALEA: Contractualization is unacceptable whether of MVP or LT’s type

Press Release
September 23, 2011

In reaction to news reports on the possible acquisition by Manuel V. Pangilinan (MVP) of Philippine Airlines (PAL) from Lucio Tan (LT), the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) stated that if his business model is also outsourcing and contractualization then it is unacceptable. “Contractualization is not ok whether of MVP or LT’s type,” asserted Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa.

Despite open denials from both the camps of Pangilinan and Tan, rumors persist of a buyout of PAL. Rivera added that “MVP is not a white knight but a black plague if his business model is more of the same contractualization. Furthermore PAL is not in need of a savior since it is a hugely profitable business with US$72.5 million in income for its 2010-2011 fiscal year.”

Rivera insisted that “The labor dispute can only be resolved if the present and any future owners of PAL maintain rather than destroy the job security of its workers. It is time for employers make a paradigm shift and craft business models that sustain regular jobs. Especially for the aviation industry, airline and passenger safety is ensured by regular employees not contractual workers whose work experience is no more than six months at a time and who are demoralized by low wages and bad working conditions.”

 “Outsourcing will not make PAL lean and mean, instead it will simply make Lucio Tan even richer. The same number of employees will still be working as a whole, only that many would then be in contractual agencies which pay less in wages and benefits. To cite examples, senior reservation agents of PAL who receive some PhP22,400 in salaries and allowances will just be paid PhP10,000 in the PLDT-owned service provider SPI Global and master technicians in airport services are being offered a measly PhP11,111.50 wage in Sky Logistics,” Rivera revealed.

With a week to go before the effectivity date of PAL’s outsourcing plan, PALEA asserts that a tiny minority of workers have accepted the separation offer and even less have signed up for work in the service providers. “We know that no more than 15% of the total 2,600 affected employees have claimed the separation package and even less than 7% have applied for jobs as contractuals in the providers,” Rivera announced.

He also contested that PAL would become more efficient if outsourcing is implemented. “It is myth that the departments to be outsourced are non-core services. No PAL plane can fly without the labor of employees in the airport services, in-flight catering and flight reservations. These departments are in fact profit centers that generate revenues for PAL. It is also a misconception that PAL is overmanned. If PAL employees do not regularly perform overtime then operations are disrupted and flights are delayed,” Rivera elaborated.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pagpupugay sa ika-65 na taong anibersaryo ng PALEA

Partido ng Manggagawa
September 21, 2011

65 na ang PALEA.  Kung ang PALEA ay isang empleyado, umabot na siya sa kanyang mandatory retirement.  Maari  na siyang  magpahinga.  At mag-antay na lamang ng pension.  Sa mga may regular na trabaho at magandang sweldo, masarap ang pagreretiro matapos ang ilang dekada ng pagtatrabaho.

Pero dahil unyon at hindi naman tao ang PALEA, wala sa kanyang bokabularyo ang pagreretiro.  Dahil sa unyonismo, ang pagreretiro ay tanda ng pagkabigo o pagkatalo.   At yan ang gustong mangyari ni Lucio Tan sa inyo.

Ang planong outsourcing at kontraktwalisasyon ng PAL ang taktika ni Lucio Tan para sa pwersahang pagpaparetiro sa PALEA.   Noon pang 1998 ay ginusto na ni Lucio Tan na magretiro ang PALEA.  Hindi nya lang nagawa dahil palaban ang PALEA.  Ginawa na nya lahat -- pananakot at panunuhol.  Pero nakatindig pa rin ang PALEA.  Dahil palaban nga ang PALEA. 

Ganunpaman, siguradong paulit-ulit na tatangkain ni Lucio Tan na mawala ang PALEA.  Dahil ayaw nya sa PALEA.  Dahil ayaw nya sa unyon.  Dahil ayaw nya sa palabang manggagawa.

Ayaw ni Lucio Tan sa PALEA dahil ang PALEA ay tagapagtanggol ng regular na trabaho.  Ayaw ni Lucio Tan sa regular na trabaho dahil may kaakibat itong security of tenure, magandang sweldo,  at iba pang benepisyo na kabawasan sa kanyang tubo.  Kaya ayaw ni Lucio Tan sa regular na trabaho ay dahil ayaw nya sa unyonismo.  At ayaw nya ng unyon dahil ang unyon ang tagapagtanggol ng inyong regular na trabaho.

Sa madaling salita, ayaw ni Lucio Tan sa inyo! 

Ang gusto niya ay naiibang kayo.  Gusto niyang baguhin ang inyong  pagkatao.  Mula regular ay gagawin kayong kontraktwal.  Mula PAL employees gagawin kayong agency workers.  Ang sahod na trenta mil magiging onse mil.  Mula sa pagiging protektado, anumang oras ay maari na kayong tanggalin!  AT MAGAGAWA NIYA ITO SA INYO KUNG MAGTATAGUMPAY ANG KANYANG PLANONG OUTSOURCING!

Gusto nyo ba ang ganitong klase ng pagbabago sa buhay nyo? 

Ang Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) po ay partido ng pagbabago.  Pero  hindi sa paraang gusto ni P-Noy at Lucio Tan kundi sa pagbabagong gusto ng manggagawa.  Marangal na trabaho.  Walang pang-aabuso.  Lipunang walang pagsasamantala ng tao sa tao.

Kaya’t  magsama-sama tayo sa labang ito!

Mabuhay ang PALEA!
Mabuhay ang manggagawang Pilipino!