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Philippine Airlines workers protest, appeals to Philippine President to stop layoff

by PM, Kontra, PLM, APL Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010 at 3:41 AM

The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) today returned to Mendiola for a rally to appeal to President Benigno Aquino III to stop the mass layoff of 2,600 employees at Philippine Airlines (PAL). PALEA submitted a formal petition to the Office of the President appealing for presidential intervention to suspend the implementation of the Baldoz decision pending its review.

Philippine Airlines ...
filipino-workers-press-talk.jpg, image/jpeg, 320x240

By Worker's Party-Philippines (PM)

“We are hopeful that P-Noy (President Noynoy Aquino) will act immediately on our petition. The President has the power based on Article 263(g) of the Labor Code to intervene at any time and assume jurisdiction over any labor dispute in order to settle it. That power has usually been used to stop workers from holding a strike as in the case of PALEA and FASAP recently. But now we are challenging P-Noy to employ it to stop management’s planned mass layoff,” explained Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and PM vice chairperson.

Some 300 PALEA members and supporters from Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) and the coalition Kontra launched a motorcade that started at the PNB Building in Diosdado Macapagal Blvd. then went onto to the Department of Labor and Employment and ended at Mendiola by noon. Meanwhile PALEA, PM and Kontra members in the cities of Cebu and Davao picketed the local Department of Labor and Employment offices to lambast the controversial Baldoz decision.

PALEA had initially planned to file a case at the Court of Appeals to question the Baldoz ruling. Rivera asserted that “We are still reserving the option to go to the Court of Appeals if nothing happens with the Office of the President. We believe we have 60 days to file a case at the Court of Appeals.”

PALEA insisted that its notice of strike is based on valid grounds of unfair labor practice by PAL. “Cielo Villaluna of PAL keeps on denying our claim that management is trying to convince union members to accept the termination package. But she signed the minutes of the conciliation meeting last Monday which states that ‘Management, through counsel, will talk to the managers to refrain from discussing the plan/issues with union members.” PAL has practically admitted to our allegation,” argued Rivera.

He also added in response to Baldoz’ justification that outsourcing is a global trend, “It does not mean that if others are doing it then it is right. If that is the logic then Filipino workers should then be enjoying the generous benefits and protection accorded workers abroad. Fact is the worldwide shift to outsourcing and contractualization has lead to the worsening of global poverty. This global inequality is the root of the global crisis two years ago which is a problem of overproduction in goods due to the lack of purchasing power by workers whose wages and benefits have shrank in the last two decades.”

November 12, 2010


Rival labor groups unite to call on P-Noy to reverse Baldoz ruling

For the first time in a long time, rival labor groups came together in a common cause to support the fight of the embattled Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) and call upon President Benigno Aquino III to reverse the controversial ruling by Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz allowing the planned mass layoff at Philippine Airlines (PAL).

In a gathering last Monday in Quezon City, leaders of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), and Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) among others agreed on a statement of solidarity with PALEA. The unity statement also condemned the Baldoz ruling as a “clear and present danger to labor rights and may be the last nail on the coffin of job security.”

Other labor groups that signed the unity statement include Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP), ABS-CBN IJM Union, Associated Labor Unions (ALU-TUCP), Archdiocese of Manila Labor Concerns (AMLC), Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Church Labor Conference (CLC), Fortune Tobacco Labor Union (FTLU), Liga Manggagawa, Likha-TUCP, Manggagawa para sa Kalayaan ng Bayan (Makabayan), National Federation of Labor (NFL), Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Transportasyon (PMT), Public Services Labor Independent Federation (PSLINK), TUCP-Congress, Union Network Philippines (UNP), United Filipino Service Workers (UFSW), United Transport Workers Union (UTWU), Urban Missionaries (UM) and United Transport Workers Union (UTWU).

The meeting ended with a public announcement of the unity statement. Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and PM vice chairperson, said that “We call on the government to take notice of this historic solidarity of the full spectrum of the labor movement to defend regular jobs and to fight labor contractualization. It is not too late for Malacanang to intervene in the PAL labor row in interests of safeguarding Constitutionally-mandated workers rights in the face of corporate restructuring.”

Former Sen. Nene Pimentel also graced the event and aside from expressing support for PALEA also offered to assist in the legal aspect of the fight including the planned filing of a case at the Court of Appeals.

“This labor solidarity is an expression that PALEA’s fight for regular jobs goes beyond the interests of PAL employees but involves as well the welfare of all workers. This will not be a country fit for our children if no one enjoys the dignity of a regular job. A regular job that provides decent wages, substantial benefits, security of tenure and the protection of a union should be the Filipino way of life,” Rivera elaborated.


Anti-contractualization group urges Congress to enact tough measures against contractualization


Some 500 Members of the Koalisyon Laban sa Kontraktwalisasyon (KONTRA) trooped to the gates of Batasan Complex this afternoon asking Congress to enact stringent measures against contractualization to prevent companies from employing different schemes that undermine labor standards.

The picket was held in time for the public hearing scheduled by the House Labor Committee on the intensifying labor dispute in PAL.

“Without these tough measures, companies are emboldened to employ labor flexibilization schemes under the guise of management prerogatives as in the case of PAL,” said Partido ng Manggagawa Chair Renato Magtubo in a statement.

The former labor partylist representative explained that “Unless criminalized, contractualization, though prohibited by law, will be abused to the max by greedy capitalists especially when they find comfort from no less than the Labor Department itself.”

Pete Pinlac, chairperson of Manggagawa para sa Kalayaan ng Bayan (Makabayan), pointed out that schemes such as outsourcing and other kinds of labor flexibilization, are mere faces of the same coin.

“All these are meant to cut on labor cost by different means, either through outright retrenchment or by depressing the price of labor by resorting to contractual work arrangements,” said Pinlac.

Edwin Bustillos of the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) on the other hand said, the scourge of contractualization has effectively weakened the bargaining power of labor in terms of defending their job security and securing decent income.

“In most cases, contractual workers are denied decent wages, have no job security, and receive no benefits compared to their regular counterparts,” explained Bustillos.

Bustillos said the entire labor movement in the country is against contractualization and is asking Congress to reverse this trend before the Philippines completely becomes a country of contractuals.

KONTRA is a labor alliance opposed to the policy of labor contractualization. It is composed of Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), the Archdiocese of Manila Ministry for Labor Concerns (AMLC), Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Manggagawa para sa Inang Bayan (MAKABAYAN), Manggagawa sa Komunikasyon sa Pilipinas (MKP), PALEA, Fortune Tobacco Labor Union (FTLU), Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), Unified Filipino Service Workers (UFSW), and Urban Missionaries (UM).


PLM on Department of Labor's decision to sack 3,000 PAL employees

By Power of the Laboring Masses (PLM)

Simple Greed

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz’ argument on allowing Philippine Airlines management to sack its 3,000 employees sounded as if it was a sacred and sacrosanct act. She said it was a “just, reasonable, humane and lawful exercise” of management prerogative. PAL Chairman Lucio Tan could not have said it better.

But if in her statement Baldoz painted a saintly figure of the PAL management, PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna presented a scary scenario of what would happen if the company would not have its way. Villaluna said that if there was no spin-off, the company “will close down and 7,500 workers will be displaced without separation pay,” thereby having “adverse effects on PAL’s shareholders, the riding public and public interest.”

Villaluna’s argument is not only meant to scare; it threatens the workers with non-payment of what is due them. Hasn’t it crossed Villaluna’s mind that not paying separation pay for displaced workers, should the company decide to close down for whatever reason, is illegal, i.e., against the law?

The point about the mass lay-off at PAL is that it is being implemented to cut down on the number of regular workers, so the company could subcontract the jobs to irregular workers. So how can it be “just” when you have been working for the company for decades and then your jobs would be spinned off to other “service providers” (which they also control) which give less wages and benefits for workers.

The culprit here is the contractualization strategy implemented by many companies today. What is happening in PAL is also happening in Fortune Tobacco, also owned by Lucio Tan; in SM group of companies by Henry Sy; the Gokongwei groups of companies; and many more big corporations in the country.

To save on costs, capitalism today has to sack more and more number of regular workers and replace them with contractual labor. This may be legal, according to the present law, but it surely isn’t “just,” “reasonable” or “humane.” It’s simply greed, or a drive to maximize capitalist profits.

Sonny Melencio


Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM)


DOLE ruling on PALEA a deviation from P-Noy’s ‘right path’

By Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL)

IT SEEMS that President Aquino’s journey has again veered off from his avowed “straight or right path” when the Department of Labor and Employment affirmed, ironically a few days before All Souls Day, an earlier “midnight decision” allowing Philippine Airlines to outsource many vital services that could “kill” up to 2,600 regular jobs.

The Alliance of Progressive Labor issued this statement in solidarity with the PAL workers, led by the PAL Employees Association, who are now on the brink of retrenchment-then-rehiring as mere contractuals in so-called service providers that PAL will supposedly contract out its current in-flight catering, cargo handling and call center reservation services.

Echoing PALEA’s concern that P-Noy has deviated from his promised “matuwid na daan” by refusing to overturn the DOLE decision and thus abandoning his worker “bosses,” APL warned that this would open the floodgates to more rampant use of contractual and other types of non-regular workers, who are more prone to many forms of abuses, including no job security, cheaper or unstable wages and benefits, various work discriminations, and banned from joining unions.

APL disclosed that a series of pronouncements from Aquino and his top Cabinet members have only stoked up fears of emerging anti-labor and anti-union biases of P-Noy’s administration.

Among them are P-Noy’s unabashed faith on the much hyped national “development” strategy of public-private partnerships or PPPs, which are actually part of the pro-elite and failed global neoliberal economic program; his enthusiastic promotion of business process outsourcing or BPO ventures, including the burgeoning call centers, which could be an indirect promotion of contractual labor since it is so widespread here; the shameless proposal of his Trade and Industry secretary to further curb the rights of workers to security of tenure as well as to organize; and his upholding of the DOLE ruling on the PALEA case.

To prove that his “right path” and “you are my boss” declarations are not simply rhetoric, APL urged Aquino to implement policies that would really benefit the majority, including, in the labor sector, support for the passage of the long pending Security of Tenure Bill in Congress; and a job generation agenda that would create “secured jobs” and where workers are justly remunerated and their labor and trade union rights are fully and unconditionally respected and upheld.

Failure to do so, the APL added, would make P-Noy’s path not unlike the “crooked path” of his former nemesis, the much despised Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The DOLE ruling on the PALEA case was issued by Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz on Oct. 29, which merely sustained the position of her predecessor, then acting DOLE Secretary Romeo Lagman, who was accused by several labor groups of making a hasty or “midnight decision” for crafting it during the dying days of the Arroyo regime.

PAL, the country’s flag carrier, is majority owned by Lucio Tan, also called “Kapitan” (captain), a shrewd taipan whose “success” began during the Marcos dictatorship. He is ranked by Forbes as the second richest in the Philippines this year, with a net worth of at least .1 billion. Aside from his interests in the airline industry (including budget airline Airphil Express), Tan has vast holdings in tobacco, brewery, liquor, banking, hotel, real estate, education, among other businesses. His business empire inside and outside the country (especially in China and Taiwan) is comprised of some 300 companies with an estimated total value of no less than billion.

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