Labor group cautions gov’t against PAL takeover

Why does World Billionaire Lucio Tan Have Such a Troubled Airline?

MANILA, Philippines—The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) on Tuesday cautioned the government against taking over the operations of the Philippine Airlines (PAL) as the labor row with pilots remains unresolved.

“The government can exercise eminent domain and police power to takeover PAL if the labor problems are unsettled but that will only sweep the dirt under the rug without actually cleaning the house,” PM chairman Renato Magtubo said in a statement.

“Unless the grievances of the airline pilots, flight attendants, and ground crew are redressed now then labor unrest will simply simmer and explode later,” he argued.

The labor group instead called on the Aquino government to mediate PAL’s labor dispute with the aim of addressing the workers’ demands.

“A better option is for the Aquino government to apply social justice so it can resolve the problem of contractualization that lies at the root of labor unrest at PAL. PAL is not simply competing with Cebu Pacific but they are copying the contractualization scheme that is rampant in its rival,” Magtubo said.

Gerry Rivera, PM vice-chairman and president of the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (Palea), agreed with Magtubo and said “contractualization is the cause of deteriorating working conditions at PAL.”

“PAL farmed out its pilots to sister company Air Philippines and thereby effectively demoted them. How can you fault the pilots then for leaving the sweatshop conditions at PAL for the good pay, regular status, and better working environment offered abroad?” he asked.

Aside from the pilots’ resignation, PAL is faced with an ongoing labor dispute with its ground crew over the planned contracting out of jobs that will lead to the layoff of some 3,000 employees and the threat of a strike by flight attendants over a deadlock in collective bargaining negotiations.

Rivera said that the PAL ground crew, flight attendants, and pilots are now in talks in order to defend job security and working conditions at the country’s biggest domestic and international carrier.

He also said Palea is scheduled to attend a conciliation meeting called by the Department of Labor and Employment on August 12.

Palea has a pending motion for reconsideration of the former Acting Labor Secretary Romeo Lagman’s “midnight decision” that affirmed PAL management’s prerogative to contract out jobs of ground crew to third-party companies that employees alleged are also owned by Lucio Tan.

Aside from a reform of the policy on labor contractualization, PM is also calling on the government to lift the six-month prior notice on the migration of workers categorized as having mission-critical skills for unduly disadvantaging labor.

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