Workers seek President Aquino’s reversal of decision on PAL case

Koalisyon Kontra Kontraktwalisasyon (KONTRA), a coalition of labor groups against contractual employment sought the reversal of earlier decision of President Benigno Aquino III upholding the outsourcing of PAL workers as they participated on the second day of PALEA’s 3-day Lakbay Hustisya today.

“The presidential intervention in the case of PAL came, not in favor of the aggrieved workers but to protect the interest of Mr. Lucio Tan who is the epitome of corporate greed with a string of tax evasion cases tucked under his belt. President Aquino who claimed to uphold “tuwid na daan” in his leadership sided with the lies perpetuated by Mr. Tan and the PAL management,” said Josua Mata, Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) Secretary General and KONTRA Co-convenor.

Mata also criticized the management of PAL for continuously spreading malicious claim that former employees are harassing them. “PAL should stop spinning tales and distorting reality. The management is the one who is harassing PALEA. It was PAL which tried to fool the Regional Trial Court to issue a Temporary Restraining Order against a legitimate labor action. Failing that, it utilized goons to attack the picket lines recently, which led to workers being hurt,” Mata added.

KONTRA participated in the 3-day march of PALEA around Metro Manila that started yesterday passing through the PAL offices, Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals before retiring for the night at Quiapo Church. On the second day of the protest action, PALEA and KONTRA members went to the house of Tan in Quezon City and passed by the office of National Labor Relations Commission. The groups are set to proceed to Malacañang tomorrow.

Mata explained that the protest action is the only recourse left for the workers as they cannot squarely compete with the well-financed public relations machinery of the PAL management. “PAL has only to blame itself for the current mess it is in. Truth is, the outsourcing program is a complete failure but the airline management is trying to bounce back by relying on dirty public relations trick. That is why, it is in the best interest of the public that we continue to campaign for the people to boycott this airline,” Mata added.

Recalling the historical context of this problem, Mata said that way back in 2009 and behind the public eye, the management is set to terminate employees to prevent the union under its new leadership to begin its negotiations for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) which had been under moratorium for the past ten years since 1998. “The management wanted to deny the employees the opportunity to improve their wages and benefits through collective negotiations,” Mata said.

According to PALEA, the terminated employees comprise 70% of the total number of rank-and-file employees who are PALEA members and 62% of the union leadership.

The groups averred that this outsourcing scheme is a strategy to deliberately interfere with the CBA negotiation that is already due after the airline exited the rehabilitation program in 2007.

In 1998, PALEA was constrained to suspend CBA negotiations that the workers said was an attempt to help the nation’s flag carrier to recover from its financial losses. In 2009, PALEA signified its intention to enter into a new CBA but the PAL management responded instead by announcing its intention to “spin-off/outsource” the three departments – airport services, in-flight catering, and call center operations.

“Malacañang, in upholding this wanton denial of workers’ rights, is even worse. President Aquino bought all the lies perpetuated by the airline management jeopardizing the lives and livelihood of PALEA members,” said Mata.

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