Home » Aviation » PAL ground crew ready to defy labor order vs strike

THE Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) is bent on staging a strike despite the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) latest order effectively banning such action.

Last Friday Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz issued a certification order which handed over the labor dispute to the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) because the matter involved unfair labor practices and not a deadlock in the collective bargaining agreement. Baldoz said the certification order prevents PALEA from going on strike while the case is being heard by the NLRC.

It maybe recalled that PALEA’s seven-day cooling-off period after filing results of a strike vote lapsed Friday.

“We are ready to defy the order of Labor Secretary Baldoz any time we deem it necessary to go on strike in order to prevent layoff and contractualization at PAL,” PALEA president Gerry Rivera in a statement said.

“The order has not stopped a strike at PAL; it has merely postponed it to a date that PAL and the government cannotPAL ground crew ready to defy labor order vs strike now know in advance,” he added.

“The order is the last nail on the coffin of labor rights in the country.”

PALEA has called on its 3,700 members to remain vigilant and be ready to go on strike any time. PALEA plans to hold protests this week against the DOLE.

The association also revealed plans to file a case with the International Labor Organization against government’s suppression of conventions on the right to self-organization and collective bargaining, claiming its complaint is stronger now with the latest DOLE order as further evidence.

Also last Friday, DoLE upheld its earlier decision stopping PAL from retiring senior flight attendants who reach the age of 55. In addition it directed the airline to reinstate flight pursers who were retired while the labor case was being heard.

Ready for worst-case scenario

In case of actual work stoppage, PAL assured the public it is up for a “worst-case scenario” with contingency measures ready to be imposed to avoid or minimize flight disruptions.

“Many PAL administrative employees, and even union members themselves, believe that a strike will not do the company any good. As such, they are ready to man posts to be vacated by protesting workers,” PAL president and COO Jaime J. Bautista said in a statement published on the airline’s website.

“We apologize to our passengers for whatever anxiety and inconvenience threats of work stoppage have spawned. Rest assured we are doing everything we can to ensure that your flights will proceed as scheduled.”

Bautista said PAL continues to appeal to its workers to respect and remain within the legal conciliation process. “But make no mistake, PAL is also ready to exercise its legal options in case any work stoppage is declared illegal by proper authorities.”

PAL is maintaining its position that the planned strike has no basis, claiming there is no truth that management refuses to convene negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement as claimed by the PALEA.

The union’s claim that there is no justifiable reason for the spin-off of three units — airport services, in-flight catering and call center reservations — also has no leg to stand on.

Bautista explained that PAL submitted its counter proposal to the collective bargaining agreement last March 28 at the National Conciliation and Mediation Board.

PAL’s spin-off plan was thrice upheld as legal and valid by the labor secretaries of the past and present administrations. Last March 25, the Office of the President likewise upheld PAL’s right to spin off its three units to third party service providers.

Dress rehearsal

PALEA members conducted a strike “dress rehearsal” last Friday outside the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 in anticipation of the actual work stoppage which may happen anytime soon.

PALEA “is 100 percent ready for a strike that will paralyze the operations of the airlines,” said Rivera in a statement.

“The only thing that can prevent a strike is for the airline to heed the demand to stop outsourcing and open collective bargaining agreement negotiations without preconditions,” he added.

Last March 24, most PALEA members voted yes to a strike to force the airline’s management to return to the negotiating table.

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