CEBU CITY – About 300 Philippine Airlines (PAL) workers in Cebu, along with more than 2,000 other PAL workers nationwide, may lose their jobs if the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) upholds its ruling to allow the airline to outsource part of its operations, a union official said Saturday.

Gerardo Rivera, president of the PAL Employees’ Association (PALEA), said PAL has sent notices of termination to 2,604 airline workers, following Dole’s decision last June 15 to allow the airline company to outsource operations like catering and ground services.

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But PALEA filed last June 28 a motion for reconsideration, saying the airline’s outsourcing some of its operations is prohibited under the collective bargaining agreement between the management and the employees’ association.

“Then acting secretary Romeo Lagman said the outsourcing scheme is a management prerogative. In our particular case, because of the limitations set forth by the collective bargaining agreement, that is prohibited,” Rivera said.

“The issue here is the contractual employment, which we are against,” he added.

PAL officials couldn’t be reached for comment.

PALEA Cebu Visayas Area/Station board member Tex Bulambot told Sun.Star Cebu the department’s ruling last June 15 was a “midnight decision” by then acting secretary Lagman.

He said if the ruling will be upheld, PAL workers in the airport services, reservation cargo, and catering divisions will be affected. The number of affected workers, he added, may even increase if the ticketing division is included in the outsourcing scheme.

Rivera, who was in Cebu last Saturday to meet with PALEA members in the city, said President Benigno Aquino III ordered the review of the department’s earlier ruling.

In an earlier statement, PAL reported $14.3 million in total comprehensive losses during its recent fiscal year, due in part to a continuing weak demand for international flights.

But Rivera said the airline’s losses are not enough reason to lay off workers. He said the airline is already 95 percent recovering from its losses in the past years.

PALEA staged a rally last June 23 in front of President Aquino’s residence on Times St. to air their demands, which includes “cleansing” the labor department from crooked officials and reviewing the contractual employment schemes of many companies.

Rivera said they met with Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz last July 28 to find a way to resolve the labor dispute.

“We said our position is firm that we will not agree with any layoffs. We are still willing, though, to talk further with the airline management,” he said in Filipino.

Bulambot said PALEA members in Cebu also plan to hold mass actions in the coming days.

He said Baldoz set another conciliation meeting between PALEA and the PAL management on Aug. 12.

Last Saturday, PAL cancelled several domestic and international flights after some of its pilots resigned to accept job offers abroad. (Rebelander S. Basilan of Sun.Star Cebu)