pal-logoThe Freedom from Debt Coalition expresses its strongest solidarity with the 2,600 members of Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) in their fight for their human dignity, job security and union rights.

We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the crackdown of Lucio Tan and his PAL management on the entire rank-and-file employees of the company and the forced implementation of the contractualization scheme, thus massively debasing and crippling the union.

Lucio Tan and his PAL management’s refusal to wait for the Court of Appeals’ ruling on the contractualization scheme and to continue negotiating with PALEA have shown that they do not respect the rights of the workers who have long been serving the company as regular workers, that they are determined to bust the workers’ union, and that they do not care at all for the welfare of the workers and their families.

In contrast to the greed shown by Lucio Tan and his management team, the workers of PAL and PALEA members have unmistakably shown their patriotism and loyalty to the company by agreeing to a 10-year (1998-2008) suspension of their collective bargaining negotiation rights so that a Philippine institution like PAL can recover and rehabilitate. Unfortunately in 2009, Lucio Tan and his PAL management’s answer to the efforts of PALEA to resume the collective bargaining negotiations was a contractualization/outsourcing scheme coupled with union-busting. PAL plans to close down three departments — call center reservations, in-flight catering and airport services — and to outsource its services by the end of the week.

The crackdown at PAL also shames the entire nation.  Although privatized, PAL retains the tag of being the nation’s flag carrier, the nation’s symbol in the sky, its representative in global aviation.  Many Filipinos take pride in the excellent ability of its pilots and ground crew to provide safe and comfortable air travel and to respond effectively during emergencies and unexpected mishaps.  Now, its identity with our people is being smeared by a bare-faced and shameless oppression of its workers and open disregard for their established rights, especially the right to dignified work and self-organization – all in the name of profit.

This fact is conveniently forgotten by those who experience inconvenience caused by flight delays.  What is a few hours of inconvenience compared to years of having no jobs and source of regular income for 2,600 Filipinos and their families if they lose this fight?

That Lucio Tan and his PAL management can get the unqualified support of Malacañang and its Labor Department shows the extent to which big business and government are of one mind in putting aside the rights of labor just to promote all kinds of schemes like contractualization and privatization to shore up big business, especially in these times of global and national economic crises.

President Aquino’s threat to sue PALEA for economic sabotage has only deepened the wounds inflicted on the PAL’s workers. It has only shown how shallow his appreciation of the situation, if not, his bias in favor of big business.  

Let us support PALEA in their fight for their rights. Ang laban ng PALEA ay laban nating lahat.

President, Freedom from Debt Coalition

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