Rights group criticizes PNoy on PAL spin-off

ESC Network Statement as published in GMA News TV

Friday 30 September 2011

A rights group on Wednesday criticized President Benigno III for allowing the outsourcing of Philippine Airlines’ (PAL) non-core operations, saying government has failed to uphold the rights of the soon-to-be-retrenched workers.

PAL management’s decision to outsource its reservation, catering and ground handling operations is a "blatant violation of the right to work and a frontal assault against dignity of labor," the NGO-PO Network on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESC Network) said in an emailed statement.

"The ESC Network, composed of around fifty (50) human rights groups, people’s organizations and NGOs, fully supports the work stoppage of PALEA members that started yesterday morning," it said.

The group is referring to the sit-down strike staged by members of the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) on Tuesday, paralyzing the airline’s operations and stranding some 14,000 passengers as Typhoon "Pedring" lashed through Luzon.

By Oct. 1, at least 2,600 regular employees of the nation’s flag carrier would be retrenched and replaced by contractual workers in accordance with the streamlining scheme, a move that PALEA and its members are trying to prevent.

PAL resumed its core operations Wednesday with the deployment of two US-bound flights, three regional and two domestic flights.

It condemned the illegal work stoppage by PALEA members that led to the suspension of airport operations and the cancellation of 172 inbound and outbound flights (102 international and 70 domestic) from the PAL hub at NAIA Terminal 2 on Tuesday.

PAL management assured that all international and domestic flight operations would resume as soon as possible.

Respect government’s decision

In a separate statement, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said that PALEA should respect the decision of government regarding PAL’s prerogative to outsource its non-core operations.

“The Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) continues to assail the legality of the outsourcing, which the DOLE has already decided," said Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz.

“The DOLE decision was affirmed by the Office of the President, and now subject of a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals," she added.

PALEA said the protest against the layoffs and contractualization will go on as 400 union workers picketed the In-Flight Center along MIA Road near Terminal 2.

Both international and domestic check-in counters at the NAIA Terminal 2 were “cleared" by airport authorities almost 12 hours after striking workers refused to perform their duties on Tuesday.

PALEA condemned the forcible eviction of hundreds of PAL employees who were staging a peaceful protest at the NAIA Terminal 2, International Cargo Terminal and Catering Department.

PAL employees Kathleen Yumol, Rhonan Alonzo, and Christian Concepcion were hurt in the dispersal at Terminal 2 by a combined force of Centaur security guards and PNP personnel led by Col. Dionalo Antallan, the association said.

“The fight is not over, even PAL and the government revealed that they will use overwhelming force to break workers’ legitimate protest," PALEA president Gerry Rivera said.

Still, some 62 domestic and 40 international flights remain cancelled due to the ongoing work stoppage. — With JM Tuazon/VS, GMA News

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