MANILA -- The union of ground personnel in beleaguered flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) on Saturday said it is willing to go back to the negotiating table after it presented its first proposal for a collective bargaining agreement since 1998.

Gerry Rivera, president of the PAL Employees Association (Palea), said they are expecting the management to heed their calls for better work benefits and the elimination of threats on mass layoffs, labor contractualization, and union busting.

“Too much wage distortion has been done to the pay scale so that there exists not only a severe contraction but to a certain extent an elimination of the quantitative differences between the job grades. We now aim to correct these distortions,” he said.

Rivera, concurrent vice chairperson of labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), said PAL president and chief operating Jaime Bautista received the CBA proposal on Friday, which covered a five-year period (2008-2013).

“We believe that the CBA should retroact to 2008 since the CBA moratorium was only for 10 years not 12,” he added.

Aside from an upgraded pay scale, the proposal also revises the provision of the old CBA barring contracting out of existing positions, jobs, divisions and departments presently occupied by present or future regular employees.

“This particular provision protects job security and union representation. The planned mass layoff of some 3,000 PAL workers is illegal because of this CBA provision,” said Rivera, whose members are prohibited to hold a strike after the labor department stepped into the dispute.

To recall, former acting secretary Romeo Lagman in June approved PAL’s plan to outsource its call center, catering and ground services operations in a bid to save P1.5 billion. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)