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PAL seeks dismissal of strike notice, meets with Philippine President

15-Nov-2010 9:04 AM

Philippine Airlines confirmed (11-Nov-2010) it sought dismissal of the second Notice of Strike (NOS) filed by the PAL Employees Association (PALEA), saying the issues being raised by union officials have already been decided when the labor department upheld PAL’s planned spin-off as a valid exercise of management prerogative. PAL said the union’s claim that the airline management was directly negotiating with union members have no basis. [more]

The carrier also confirmed (12-Nov-2010) top airline executives sat down with President Benigno Aquino III and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa on 09-Nov-2010 to discuss the planned spin off and its effects on some 2600 workers. As to the reported Palace intervention in the PAL-PALEA dispute, President and COO Jaime Bautista said he has not received any call or official communication from the Palace regarding the scope, nature and effects of such intervention. Mr Bautista also maintained that the spin-off is based on solid legal grounds and stressed that the spin-off is not designed for profit but survival. Mr Bautista also assured Malacanang that all affected PAL workers will receive separation pay equivalent to three times that provided by the Labour Code and 25% more than the current PAL-PALEA collective bargaining agreement (CBA) as well as a generous set of separation benefits. They will also be hired by the third-party service providers of PAL.  Mr Aquino confirmed the meeting, adding he has also met with members of the labour sector to “get them closer to negotiated settlement and ease the fears of both parties” (GMANews.TV, 12-Nov-2010). Labour Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz stated the President has the power to review decisions from Cabinet members. Ms Baldoz added the labour department agrees with Mr Aquino’s stance for a “negotiated settlement”. [more]

International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) pledged (12-Nov-2010) its support for PALEA and renewed its call for President Aquino to avoid a huge loss of jobs at PAL. ITF has been backing PALEA in its defence of jobs and conditions at the airline and is now redoubling its efforts. ITF has therefore put its 781 member trade unions on standby to be ready to assist, and has written to the President. [more]

Philippine Airlines: “It’s simply illogical for PAL to ‘bargain’ or even attempt to negotiate directly with individual rank-and-file workers after it has already secured a favourable decision from DOLE upholding its right to spin off and retire its workers in the process. There is no attempt by the PAL management to ‘restrain, coerce or interfere’ with the workers’ exercise right to self organisation – which are basic elements of ULP. Since DOLE already ruled that the spin-off is valid and stands on solid legal grounds, the union’s claim of unfair labour practice cannot hold water. PALEA's threats to stage a strike and ignore legal processes is tantamount to ‘taking the law into one’s hands’, which does not speak well of the organisation that lodged a complaint before DOLE in the first place,” Cielo Villaluna, Spokesperson. Source: Philippine Airlines, 11-Nov-2010.

Philippine Airlines: "The President spoke his mind about the PAL spin-off and asked many questions on how best to strike a balance between the concerns of workers and management. Apparently, Malacanang is waiting for the official communication from PALEA. As far as PAL is concerned, we're also waiting for PALEA's action on whether it will challenge the DOLE decision before the Court of Appeals or the Office of the President. We told the President that PAL is exercising its legal right and prerogative to restructure its organisation and sell some operating units in accordance with provisions of the Labour Code and existing jurisprudence. We are retiring 2600 workers in order to save the jobs of the other 4000 that will remain in PAL and to ensure continuing service to the nation and PAL's 10 million passengers," Jaime Bautista, President and COO. Source: Philippine Airlines, 12-Nov-2010.

Philippine Government: “We're like the bridge, we're trying to be a bridge and so far there are so many promising signs and I have to wait as to how far they have gone and see what acceptance has been by both parties,” Benigno Simeon Aquino III, President. Source: GMANews.TV, 12-Nov-2010.

ITF: “Events at the airline will be well known to you, including the widely reported hiving off by owner Lucio Tan of its most profitable service divisions and their subsequent renaming and incorporation into his own companies, the resulting risk to jobs, and the alleged attempt to neuter any dissent from within the airline by breaking its workers’ union of choice, PALEA. The potential result of such a decision, if it not rescinded, has been concisely described by PALEA President Gerry Rivera as meaning the death of job security at Philippine Airlines. We, like PALEA, believe it will usher in not just the layoff and possible reemployment without protection and on inferior terms of those 3000 people, but will also accelerate the decline and dissension that is wracking your nation’s national carrier. We therefore ask you and your government to reconsider the decision most urgently.” David Cockroft, General Secretary. Source: ITF, 12-Nov-2010.