PAL workers reiterate strike plan

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Sunday, November 7, 2010


WHILE they will attend the mediation hearing at the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) today, Monday, members of the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (Palea) said they are ready to go on strike anytime soon.

“We are forced to this recourse because of the management’s intransigence in persuading our members in accepting the separation package. The strike can be as early as after 15 days since this is an unfair labor practice issue,” said Palea president Gerry Rivera.

On Friday, the group filed another notice of strike on the ground of unfair labor practices due to PAL’s effort in resorting to individual bargaining with union members.

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“The filing of a notice is not a delaying tactic but an urgent response to management’s belligerent moves. We will present evidence of PAL’s determined and pervasive attempts at cajoling Palea members into swallowing the bitter pill of termination,” Rivera added.

While they will attend the conciliation meeting, the group said some of its 200 members and supporters will stage a rally in the area.

Rivera said the protest action will be the start of a week-long series of rallies that will culminate in the filing of a case against Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz at the Court of Appeals.

With this, Renato Magtubo, PM chairperson, called on President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III to look into the recent decision of the labor department.

“We call upon P-Noy to reverse the decision of Baldoz. Di pa huli ang lahat para ituwid ang crooked road of promoting contractualization,” he said.

Rivera denied reports that Palea members and its officers are secretly asking the management for the computation of their separation pay.

“This work of fiction is the output of the newly-hired PR firm of PAL. What will make the coming holidays happy for employees is not receiving separation pay but keeping our regular jobs and securing the future for our families," he pointed out.

Probe on hefty bonuses

Palea also called on lawmakers to investigate the alleged huge bonuses received by the firm's top officials during the years the management was claiming losses.

"The offer of separation pay is a pittance compared to the multi-million annual bonuses doled out by PAL to its executives and directors despite its alleged huge losses for the years 2009 and 2010,” Rivera noted.

Contrary to the company’s claim that it lost nearly P15 billion in the past two years, he said the carrier’s top executives are reaping millions of pesos in bonuses.

He claimed that PAL’s top senior executive officers received an average of US$60,000 (P2.76 million) a year from fiscal years, 2008-2009, 2009-2010 and even for 2010-2011.

This is on top of their salaries of around US$360,000 and other annual compensation of up to US$90,000, he added.

“For the same years, all the other PAL officers and Board of Directors received no less than US$25,000 in bonuses on top of salaries of more than US$150,000 and other annual compensation of up to US$265,000,” he noted.

The airline reported a narrower loss for its last fiscal year ending March 2010 at US$14.4 million from US$297.8 million a year ago. PAL also posted a weak US$31.6 million profit in the first quarter ending June this year. The airline’s fiscal year starts on April and ends on March 2011.

“PAL should not hide behind confidentially arguments since it is a public utility that enjoys a government franchise,” Rivera noted.

“Corporate bonuses becomes a public issue when PAL plans to lay off thousands on claims that it may go bankrupt if not allowed to outsource some of its services,” he added.(Virgil Lopez/FP/Sunnex)

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