At 10:00 a.m., dozens of members of the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (Palea), the ground crew union at PAL, held a symbolic protest at the main office of the Department of Labor and Employement (DoLE) in Intramuros, Manila.The PAL employees brought a mock coffin with the label “RIP PAL workers” and also an effigy of Labor Secretary Baldoz in the image of the fictional “Kamatayan.”
The protesters carried posters with messages such as “Job Security ng PAL Workers, Inilibing ni Baldoz,” “Baldoz Halloween Order and Lagman Midnight Decision, Parehong Anti-Labor,” “Baldoz, Mumultuhin ka ng Halloween Order Laban sa PAL Workers,” and “Kung Di Mo Kaya si Lucio Tan, Baldoz Resign.”Gerry Rivera, Palea president and also vice chairman of the militant Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), said that “The DoLE’s version of Oplan Kaluluwa is releasing an order on the eve of the Halloween holidays that revives the half dead proposal to permit contractualization at PAL. Contractualization means not just the death of job security at PAL but also killing the oldest union in the country.” “Nobody will allow themselves to be murdered without putting up a fight. This is a fight for decent jobs and protection for our families,” Rivera added.
Palea said the protests will continue tomorrow with a march from the DoLE main office to Mendiola by several hundred PAL employees together with supporters from PM and other labor groups.Rivera lambasted PAL’s argument that it will close down if the layoff and outsourcing move is not allowed.
“This is simply blackmail and black propaganda meant to intimidate workers into accepting the unacceptable. Revenue-generating departments such as airport services and catering will be outsourced to service providers which are partly-owned by Lucio Tan. PAL may be losing but the second wealthiest Filipino keeps on getting richer,” he argued.He called on PAL workers to reject the termination notices that will come in the wake of the DoLE decision affirming the mass layoff plan.
“Palea calls on its members not to accept any termination paper and not to sign any employment contract with service providers. All for one and one for all in the fight for job security and union security,” he said.Rivera recalled that when the mass retrenchment was initially implemented last April, employees were asked to sign termination papers in one room and then to transfer to another room to sign employment contracts with service providers.
“Let us not be tricked into swallowing the bitter pill of retrenchment now that it has been artificially sweetened with a slightly higher separation pay,” he insisted.