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 $2.1 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 $30 billion.