Home » Aviation » It’s business as usual, PAL says

PHILIPPINE Airlines (PAL) assured the riding public there will be no immediate strike from its ground and cabin crew unions.

In a statement published on the flag carrier’s website, PAL president Jaime Bautista said he remains hopeful a peaceful and amicable solution to PAL’s labor problems will be found. “After all,” he said, “PAL management continues to talk with the union representatives. We believe the negotiating table is still the best venue for resolving differences.”

Bautista assured PAL passengers that labor strikes – especially in public utilities like PAL – do not happen overnight. “There is a legal process involved which all parties must respect and adhere to, before any lockout or strike can materialize,” he explained.

Just the same, he said PAL has lined up measures like deployment of administrative staff and other personnel to help in case of emergency. “As part of our conditions of carriage, we commit to our passengers that we will bring them to their destination whether through extra flights or through PAL’s domestic and international interline partners,” he said.

PAL has a total of 134 interline partners – 12 airlines in Southeast Asia; 11 in the USA and Canada; 25 in Europe; 12 in the Middle East; 3 airlines in Japan; and 10 airlines in China. “In case of flight disruptions, our passengers can rest assured that we can transfer them to these airline partners,” Bautista explained.

As this developed, PAL urged the Deparment of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to resolve the pending motions for reconsideration filed by both the PAL management and the PAL Employees Association (PALEA) regarding the airline’s planned spin-off of three non-core units – catering, ground handling and call center.

During last Thursday’s DOLE-initiated conciliation meeting, PAL representatives stressed the spin-off is crucial to the company’s survival. They urged DOLE to uphold its earlier ruling recognizing the spin-off as “a valid exercise of a managerial prerogative.”

Bautista explained almost all airlines in the world are concentrating on their core business of flying and operating aircraft. Most, if not all, have given up non-core businesses and simply engaged the services of cheaper and more cost-efficient third parties.

He stressed PAL is not engaging in “contractualization” as claimed by its ground crew union. “PAL is not hiring contractuals. It is selling its catering, ground handling and call center units to interested third parties who are experts in operating these businesses,” he said.

Bautista added that the more than 2,600 PALEA members to be affected by the spin-off will be paid one month’s salary for every year of service and guaranteed employment by companies who will take over PAL’s catering, ground handling and call center units.

“Contrary to PALEA’s claim, no worker will be left on the street, except those who will not take the job offered by the service providers,” PAL stressed.

Bautista also belied PALEA’s claims that the workers will eventually be hired by companies owned by PAL Chairman Lucio Tan.

“This is not true. A classic example is the case of PAL’s call center which will eventually be taken over by e-PLDT Ventus, a unit of publicly-listed PLDT controlled by Mr. Manny Pangilinan, not Mr. Tan.”

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