Philippine Airlines rejects striking employees’ offer to return to work


MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Airlines (PAL) yesterday rejected the offer of striking ground employees to return to work and end the labor dispute.

PAL president Jaime Bautista said “there is no turning back” and the airline company is determined to fully implement its outsourcing program.

“PAL is slowly returning to normalcy, thanks to the selfless dedication of our administrative volunteers and the help of our service providers,” Bautista said in a statement.

Bautista then assured the public that from the current 70 percent, the airline’s flights will be back to pre-strike levels in the next few weeks.

“As of midnight October 1, the workers in the catering, ground handling and call center reservations units have ceased to be PAL employees. Hence, they have no right to demand or tell the airline how to run its business,” Bautista said.

Bautista also said that PAL Employees Association (PALEA) officials Gerry Rivera and Bong Palad have also ceased to be PAL employees and are therefore no longer recognized by PAL as leaders of the union.

“They have no authority to negotiate for and in behalf of PAL workers,” Bautista said, adding that PAL management has other reasons why it won’t recall former workers.

According to Bautista, the outsourcing program is already in full swing and service providers have taken over the functions of the three departments.

“Anyone who wishes to render work must apply with these providers and PAL will only take back its former workers if there is a court order mandating it to do so; so far, there is none,” he said.

Bautista said the striking PAL workers caused damage to the airline company’s equipment during their Sept. 27 wildcat strike.

“Mixing former PAL workers with volunteers and service providers poses grave risk to the men and women who have worked so hard to keep the airline flying. It would be most unfair to expose them to possible harassment and physical harm,” Bautista said.

At this time, Bautista said PAL’s service providers are exerting their best effort to hire skilled workers to fill part of the vacuum left by its former personnel.

“We must understand that they were required by DOLE and Malacañang to absorb all former PAL employees. Now that these workers have shown that they are not interested, the service providers are working double-time to recruit the people they need,” he said.

As this developed, retrenched PAL employees have intensified their protest. They have set up camp outside the Mactan International Airport in Cebu and held a family day in their protest camp in Manila.

“Instead of going to the mall, eating out or just relaxing at home, PALEA members spent their first Sunday as officially jobless with their spouses and children at the protest camp,” Rivera said.

Rivera said the protest action against the outsourcing program has already spread globally with Qantas ground crew in Australia going on strike over grievances that include lack of job security.

Meanwhile, among the complaints that triggered strikes in Europe is job insecurity while in New York, workers are demanding regular employment.