Home » Aviation » PAL crew files strike notice

THE flight attendants and cabin crew of Philippine Airlines (PAL) last week filed a formal notice of strike.

Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP) president Bob Anduiza said the actual date of the strike has yet to be finalized but that an announcement will be made two weeks before the work stoppage to warn the riding public.

He, however, said the strike will likely occur next month or in early November.

“Once we go on strike, no flight will take off,” said Anduiza. “This will ground PAL’s entire operations.”

He said PAL could lose up to P60 million a day from the work stoppage.

FASAP, which has 1,600 members, is protesting against PAL’s alleged unfair labor practices, including the mandatory 40-year retirement age for cabin crew.

The cabin staff are also demanding a wage increase that would put their pay on par with those offered by foreign carriers as well as paid maternity leave.

PAL’s side

In a statement, PAL assured the riding public that operations will remain unhampered despite the strike notice.

“PAL’s operations remain normal and all flights are operating as scheduled. There is no immediate work stoppage,” PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said in a statement.

“The notice of strike filed by FASAP commences a legal process by which the two parties, with guidance from the labor department, would find ways of striking a balance between what the union wants and what management can afford and is prepared to give,” Villaluna added.

She denied FASAP claims its members are overworked and underpaid. “PAL’s cabin attendants receive an average gross monthly salary ranging from P30,000 to 80,000. They also enjoy enviable rest periods.”

Accusations of age and gender discrimination were also refuted. “The early retirement age is part of the negotiated CBA FASAP leaders signed on two separate dates. They complain of alleged inequity of early retirement provisions when in fact the older batch of FASAP members, including the union leaders themselves, have been receiving and enjoying financial benefits in exchange for the younger retirement age of their colleagues,” Villaluna said.

On complaints that PAL discourages pregnancy among cabin attendants, Villaluna said last year there were at least 65 cabin attendants who went on maternity leave, all of whom “received maternity benefits in accordance with the Labor Code and the CBA. PAL even advanced P30,000 in SSS benefits before they gave birth.”

Under the law, both parties have a 30-day cooling-off period after the filing of a notice of strike. During this time the labor secretary will mediate to find a compromise settlement and may also issue an assumption order which will force the airline’s management and the labor union to sit down for another round of negotiations.

PAL said the notice of strike is ill-timed, considering the airline is already incurring massive losses due to the botched hostage-rescue operations at the Quirino Grandstand on August 23 which killed eight people, mostly Hong Kong nationals.

The airline has lost P15 million since August 27 following 1,000 flight cancellations as a result of the hostage-taking incident.

“A strike threat doesn’t help in efforts to lure back tourists to the country,” Villaluna said.

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