Akbayan asks Congress to probe PAL row


MANILA, Philippines - Akbayan Party-list Rep. Walden Bello on Tuesday called on his colleagues at the House of Representatives to investigate the labor woes of Philippine Airlines (PAL) flight attendants.

In a press conference, the militant lawmaker said the Lower House should also summon PAL owner and chairman Lucio Tan to shed light on the labor complaints.

The 1,600-strong Flight Attendants’ and Stewards’ Association of the Philippines (FASAP) is threatening a massive work stoppage after talks with PAL management collapsed on Monday.

FASAP said it refused to accept the P80 million one-time package offered by the management, saying it is not enough to cover the last 3 years’ wage distortions and other insufficient benefits.

Despite these repeated warnings, PAL President Jaime Bautista said he is confident that the government could stem any possible strikes if the government assumes jurisdiction.

In cases of national interest, the President or Labor Secretary “assumes jurisdiction” and can order employees to return to work.

Bello expressed concern over Bautista’s statements and hopes Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz will be impartial in addressing PAL’s labor problems.

FASAP also voiced out the same concerns. Union president Bob Anduiza said the government should be able to wring from the management a win-win solution.

Gov't will be impartial

In a separate press conference, Malacanang assured the stakeholders that the Department of Labor and Employment will “only favor what is right and just.”

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said it is early to assume that the government already has to take jurisdiction over the case.

The government is still monitoring developments in the negotiations, he said.

Meanwhile, former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros also warned Tan that the company could be liable if it insists on pursuing the compulsory retirement policy.

Under the existing CBA, male and female flight attendants who were hired before November 1996 would be retired once they reach 60 and 55 years old, respectively, and those hired from 1996 and beyond would be retired at age 45 for both males and females. Those hired after November 2000, on the other hand, will be retired by the age of 40 for both males and females.

FASAP is seeking to quash this policy, quoting laws prescribing the retirement age at 60.

Hontiveros warned Tan for violating the Magna Carta on Women. She said PAL’s policy is obviously a form of gender discrimination.

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