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Friday, September 30, 2011

No strike amidst illegal lockout Palea leaders betrayed PAL workers

“The fact that no strike was launched today in PAL, when workers are being barred from going to work, proves that the leaders of Palea have betrayed their members.”

This was labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno’s statement today, as the Philippine Airlines management retrenches more than 2,600 of its workforce in outsourcing key airline functions to third-party service providers.

KMU said PAL workers are in a better position to hold a strike today than they were last September 27, when they launched protest actions that paralyzed the flag carrier’s operations.

“PAL workers are in a solid legal and political position to hold a strike today, when they are prevented from going to work. The PAL management is guilty of illegal lockout, violating the status quo which should be in place pending the decision of the Court of Appeals on the labor dispute,” said Lito Ustarez, KMU vice-chairperson.

“Instead of holding a strike when the PAL management is already stopping workers from going to work, the leadership of Palea decided to violate the status quo order resulting from the petition it filed before the CA,” he said.

“The result: workers were denied a better position for holding a strike against the massive layoff and PAL’s contractualization via outsourcing scheme. Workers who joined the protests were made vulnerable to retrenchment, non-payment of retirement benefits, and criminal charges – thereby spreading fear among other workers,” he added.

There is currently a petition for certiorari filed by the leaders of the PAL Employees’ Association last August before the Court of Appeals, in which Palea is asking the CA to set aside two decisions of the Office of the President upholding the contracting of key airline functions.

Pending the resolution of the case, a status quo order should be in place, prohibiting the union from launching protest actions and the management from retrenching workers and implementing its outsourcing scheme.

“To make matters worse, the Palea leadership decided to hold the protest without prior notice to the public and amidst a raging typhoon, thereby alienating the public whose support is crucial to the fight’s success,” Ustarez said.

“We have every reason to believe that the Palea leadership launched the Sept. 27 protest action to undermine a possible Oct. 1 strike, which some PAL workers have been agitating for. The Palea leadership – Gerry Rivera and Bong Palad in the main – weakened the PAL workers’ fight,” he added.

“We cannot help but think that Rivera and Palad are in cahoots with Lucio Tan and the Aquino government in attacking the job security and union rights of PAL workers. It is very likely that they have become wealthier by betraying the PAL workers,” he added. Lito Ustarez, KMU Vice Chairperson

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