Airline union to file case vs. govt before ILO

Published by rudy Date posted on April 4, 2011

THE leadership of the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (Palea) over the weekend announced that it would file a case against the government for allegedly suppressing the strike that they intended to hold on account of Philippine Airlines’ (PAL) planned outsourcing of its services.

The association’s President Gerry Rivera explained that the government’s alleged suppression of the conventions on the right to self-organization and collective bargaining would be used as grounds for the said case.

In a bid to put on hold the impending strike, Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz issued a certification order placing the labor dispute under compulsory mediation.

The strike, originally scheduled to start on April 2, was postponed on account of the said directive.

Rivera, however, stressed that the association is ready to defy the said order which effectively prohibited work stoppage resulting from the strike.

“We are ready to defy the order of Labor Secretary Baldoz any time we deem it necessary to go on strike in order to prevent layoff and contractualization at PAL. Baldoz’ latest order is a bad April fool’s prank,” Rivera said.

He said Palea was ready to commence the strike anytime in defiance of the Labor department order.

“[The] order has not stopped a strike at PAL, it has merely postponed it to a date that PAL and the government cannot now know in advance,” Rivera said.

Palea members are also set to hold a picket in front of the department’s office in Manila on Monday to protest Baldoz’s order.

“The only thing that can prevent a strike is for PAL to heed the demand to stop outsourcing and open collective bargaining agreement negotiations without preconditions,” Rivera maintained.

Meanwhile, deputy spokesman Abigail Valte on Sunday conceded over state-run Radyo ng Bayan that it was Palea’s right to bring the case to the International Labour Organization (ILO), but hoped that the case would be resolved through compulsory mediation.

“We hope ma-resolve kahit mukha naman talagang nagkakagirian ang dalawang grupo doon sa isyu [We hope it can be resolved despite the clash of the two groups on the issue],” Valte said.

“Sana po magkaroon pa rin ng magandang resolusyon kapag nag-undergo na sila ng compulsory mediation [We hope for a resolution when the two groups undergo compulsory mediation],” she added.

Valte, however, said Palea’s strike could be declared “illegal” since the case was now under compulsory mediation.

“Hindi po pwedeng mag-strike kapag nasubmit sa isang compulsory mediation ang isang kaso. Magiging illegal po ang strike nila kapag pinilit nila talagang gawin yun [The union cannot hold a strike if a case is already under compulsory mediation. It will be declared illegal if they decided to push through with it],” she said.

The ILO is an agency of the United Nations tasked to promote social justice and internationally recognized human and labor rights.

Earlier, an overwhelming majority of Palea members voted “yes” to the planned strike.

The Office of the President, however, intervened and directed the association to accept the retrenchment offer of the flag-carrier owned by business tycoon Lucio Tan.

Palea, however, proceeded to file a notice of strike before the Labor department on March 25.

It has already called on its 3,500 members to prepare for the first nationwide strike against the airline since 1998. –CRIS G. ODRONIA, ROMMEL C. LONTAYAO REPORTERS AND JAIME PILAPIL CORRESPONDENT, Philippine Daily Inquirer

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