Government intervenes in PAL tiff with pilots

Flag carrier rejects resignation of more than 24 pilots

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - Government officials will meet with Philippine Airlines (PAL) management and its pilots on Monday to resolve issues that led to the cancellation of several domestic and international flights.

In a press conference, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III said, “I understand it will be 2 separate meetings, the end point being to address the situation and to remind everybody.”

He said the Executive Secretary, and the heads of the departments of Transportation and Communication, Labor, and Justice will be sitting down with the management and the union representing the pilots.

He reminded both camps of their accountabilities to the riding public or risk being charged.

“This is being studied…there has been disruption to our tourism efforts and other aspects of the economy that would need their services. If this is not warranted, then they lay themselves also open to appropriate charges,” he said.

He said the meetings on Monday will be relevant in order to arrive at a solution “so the riding public is not inconvenienced and the economy does not suffer because of what is an inter-company dispute.”

PAL cancelled several flights on Saturday after what the management called the “indiscrimate” resignation of pilots.

At least 8 were cancelled again on Sunday, including Manila-Cagayan-Manila (PR181/182), Manila-Bacolod-Manila (PR133/134), Manila-Iloilo-Manila (PR147/148), and Manila-Cebu-Manila (PR847/848).

PAL rejects resignations

In a separate press release, the flag carrier rejected the resignation of the pilots and gave them 7 days to report to work.
PAL called on its pilots to respect their existing contracts or risk civil, criminal and administrative charges.

"PAL doesn't want to get in the way of its pilots' dream of landing better paying jobs abroad, but they have contractual obligations with the company and a moral responsibility to thousands of passengers,” the company said.

It said the pilots have been “pirated” by other carriers in the Asian region and the Middle East that pay 2 to 3 times more than their current salaries.

PAL apologized to the public for the inconvenience caused by the cancelled flights.

“We know our passengers missed connecting flights, including important personal and business appointments. But the pilots' resignation is something we couldn't prevent. Many of them simply did not show up for work and just handed in their resignation letters. Some of them even owe PAL millions of pesos for the cost of their training," the flag carrier said.

Low morale

In a separate interview with ANC, Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) President Jerry Rivera said union members’ morale has been affected because of the pilots’ resignations.

He clarified the pilots are not members of PALEA, but “our hearts and sympathies go to our pilots because as earlier mentioned, and tunay na dahilan siguro ay ang kasiguruduhan ng trabaho…Ang impormasyon namin, pati piloto ay kontraktwal.”
He said about 2,604 employees are in danger of losing their jobs if PAL decides to implement a plan to outsource positions.

Rivera said PALEA has not yet been informed if members would be joining tomorrow’s meetings.

He said however that the union has already been in contact with the Department of Labor and Employment. Another meeting is scheduled on August 12 at 1:00 p.m.

“We express our willingness to engage with PAL in so far as productivity is concerned,” he said.

Rivera, however, noted that PAL should also do its part of the job, by not pushing through with the outsourcing.

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