THE problem that is now plag-uing the nation’s official airline carrier, Philippine Airlines (PAL), is something we should all find the time to ponder on. While the abrupt resignation of 25 pilots has caused much anxiety as well as undue inconvenience to the riding public, you shouldn’t have to be a passenger to be concerned.
I am aware of the problems that beset labor and management. It is not often that both can sit down and agree to each other’s demands. But I must say that both sides should consider not only the legalities of this situation but the ethics and morality of it all, as well.
The pilots, if indeed they did not have a contract with PAL, still had the moral obligation not to leave the riding public in a lurch. It is not enough for the pilots to simply say that they broke no contract because they did not have a contract to begin with. Beyond legalities, it is a matter of professional ethics to give notice of one’s resignation.
On the other hand, the management of Philippine Airlines should also take into account the complaints of their employees. There was a reason why these pilots walked out on their jobs—-rightly or wrongly. The pilots’ actions seemed to hint of malice, sparked by anger perhaps?
The pilots have the right to seek better pay. They have the right to seek better employment elsewhere. But in seeking better pay and pastures, these pilots are not excused from giving proper notice to their employers and sparing the public from undue inconvenience.
Worldwide, the airline industry is struggling. The one thing that most employees often do not understand is the basic difference between employees and owners. Owners undertake the risk of their investments. In good times and in bad, they must pay overhead costs, which include payroll.
When the company profits, employees expect to share in the profits. But when the company loses money, employees do not expect to share in the losses. So why begrudge the owners of a business when they profit? Do employees have a right to demand a share of these profits? In times of crisis, do employees offer to take pay cuts?
While employees are the lifeblood of a business, they should not be myopic. They should not only look at the profit picture of a business in one period and immediately demand higher wages as a share of these profits without looking into the total picture of the company.
A business may reap profits in particular periods but also suffer losses in others. Have you ever heard of an airline that cuts the wages of its airline crew on certain flights because these flights have a lot of empty seats? As an employee, one cannot simply isolate the profits of one period and be justified in asking for higher wages because of such profits.
At the end of the day, despite accusations of injustice by employees of employers, the law of supply and demand will apply. Salaries will eventually rise despite and whatever the industry dictates or the law mandates. As consumers, we will have to be prepared to pay higher prices. This is the price we have to pay for taking our place in the global village.