Reconsider Strike Threats, PAL Asks Flight Attendants

Philippine Airlines (PAL) management asked its flight attendants to “reconsider" threats about filing a strike notice, officials said on Tuesday after labor talks between the two parties remained deadlocked.

“All peaceful means of resolving differences should be exhausted," the company said in a statement, adding that the airline is sincere in addressing their concerns.

“Let's find a peaceful solution to our internal problems for the sake of the flying public," PAL president and chief operating officer Jaime Bautista said.

Negotiations are still ongoing before the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB), the statement said.

The NCMB is still the venue by which members of the Flight Attendants’ and Stewards’ Association of the Philippines (FASAP) could air “their grievances," PAL said.

“Threatening to go on strike...would not redound to the public’s interest," it added.

The next meeting between PAL management and FASAP officers is scheduled for August 17 before the NCMB.

PAL hit by global crisis

Since PAL is experiencing financial difficulty, the Lucio Tan-led company can only “offer an P80 million one-time package to FASAP to close their negotiations for the 2005-2010 collective bargaining agreement (CBA)," Bautista said.

The company was hit hard “by the global economic recession and slowdown in travel just like the other airlines around the world," he added.

The offer was made “to show our good faith and sincerity in addressing their concerns."

Bautista also denied reports that management refused to discuss the retirement age issue during the mediation talks held on Monday at the NCMB.

The company was simply asking that the issue be included in the next CBA (2010-2015) which we can commence immediately, said Bautista.

But this was denied by FASAP president Roberto Anduiza.

“FASAP has been negotiating with PAL management in good faith for the last month," Anduiza told GMANews.TV in a phone interview.

“We’ve given them time. But they have yet to come up with a proposal regarding retirement age."

Retirement rule

Under the existing CBA, the compulsory retirement age for male and female flight attendants hired before November 22, 1996 are 60 and 55, respectively. Those hired after November 22, 1996 are 40 for males and 45 for females. Those hired after November 22, 2000 are required to retire at 40 for both genders.

According to Bautista, the first flight crew to be affected by the 40-year-old retirement rule is “still years from now."

“We have enough time to discuss it with no one being adversely affected by the said rule," he said.

A crewmember hired in year 2000 at the age of 22 will only turn 40 in 2018. Those hired in 1996, on the other hand, will only turn 45 by 2019, he said.

But this projection was denied by Anduiza, saying that one flight attendant has already been hit by the provision.

“In the past years, hundreds have left," he said.

“PAL management is in a state of denial," he said. “What it should do is to sit down and deal with its employees fairly."—Robert JA Basilio Jr./JV, GMANews.TV

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