Monday, December 10, 2012

PALEA & Nagkaisa hold Jericho March at San Miguel in celebration of human rights day

December 10, 2012
Reference: Alnem Pretencio
Workers hold Jericho March at San Miguel in celebration of human rights day

Invoking the principle “Workers’ rights are human rights!”, members of the broad labor coalition Nagkaisa! celebrated today’s International Human Rights Day looking for justice for the long-suffering members of the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA).

But instead of a traditional march to Mendiola, Nagkaisa! members held a ‘Jericho March’ at the headquarters of San Miguel Corporation (SMC)  in  Pasig City to reiterate its demands for the reinstatement of locked out workers of PAL and the dropping of criminal charges against several  leaders and members of PALEA.

Aside from labor, the human rights community lead by the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) also joined the protest.  Both argued that PAL’s outsourcing/contractualization of regular jobs was in gross violation of the workers’ constitutional right to security of tenure.

PALEA members had been fighting a desperate battle for reinstatement after the old management of the flag carrier locked them out in September last year after 2,400 regular workers refused to be outsourced in another service company.

SMC President Ramon Ang took control of the Philippine Airlines (PAL) in April this year after the beer giant infused at least US$500 million of fresh equity to the ailing flag carrier.  Upon his takeover of the captain’s seat, he declared that one of his top priorities was to resolve the lingering labor dispute in PAL.

“One year was too long a wait for justice that PALEA members rightfully deserved. Their rights have been violated and we in the labor movement wanted to see if the new management under Ramon Ang will keep true his pronouncements to find a just resolution to the dispute,” said Eva Arcos of the Association of Labor Unions (ALU)-TUCP, a convenor of Nagkaisa!

Nagkaisa! is bothered lately when instead of having marathon negotiations to end the dispute, warrant of arrests came out against the 39 members of PALEA, creating signals that the dispute is actually far from getting resolved.

On his part, PALEA president and Partido ng Manggagawa vice chair Gerry Rivera, reiterated his appeal for the new management to fast track the negotiations so that both parties, including the riding public, can again fly PAL with pride.

He added that PALEA after more than one year of struggle continues to enjoy wide support from the local and international trade union movement.    In fact beginning December 12, international unions will also be holding solidarity actions for PALEA at several airports where PAL has regular flights.

Rivera said labor and human rights groups’ support to PALEA will never end until the ‘walls of Jericho’ that is preventing their reinstatement crumble. 

He added that the policy of contractualization demonstrated in PAL’s outsourcing plan is the latest form of modern-day slavery that the labor movement wants eradicated.

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