PAL, PALEA ends two-year old labor dispute

The Philippine Airlines, Inc. (PAL) and the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) have finally settled a dispute over an outsourcing program implemented in September 2011. 

The officers of PAL and PALEA signed the agreement in a private ceremony held Thursday afternoon in Mandaluyong City.

After signing the agreement, the airline company will start the processing of applications for re-employment of covered PALEA members.

Following a consistent and fair assessment process, PALEA members who meet PAL’s qualifications and hiring requirements will be re-hired for available job openings. 

Both parties re-affirmed their commitment to a harmonious labor-management relationship as a key factor in providing total customer satisfaction.

PAL calls on its investors, stakeholders and customers to support the flag carrier’s efforts to realize its vision of becoming one of the region’s leading global carriers.

For its part, PALEA hailed the settlement agreement that provides for the re-employment of some 600 members as regular workers.

The dispute came after the previous PAL management decided to shut down three non-core departments of the airline company in 2011. The departments were the airport services division, in-flight catering, and call center reservations.

As a result, PAL outsourced these jobs which laid off 2,604 employees.

With the management refusing to bargain, PALEA staged a strike on April 2011 and erected a makeshift camp along airport road near the PAL terminal symbolizing union’s unmet grievances.

Formal negotiations started on December 2012 after San Miguel Corporation bought half of the airline, took management control and embarked on a re-fleeting program with settling the dispute are among new management main prerogatives.

“Resistance saved PALEA’s regular jobs. If we had accepted rather than fought the outsourcing scam implemented in 2011 then we would have become contractual workers trapped in an endless cycle of six-month endo jobs, or worse we would have become unemployed in this jobless growth economy. Instead we will be returning to our regular jobs in the next few months,” said Gerry Rivera, PALEA president in a statement.

The agreement provides for an improved separation package of 200 percent per year of service and P150,000 in gratuity pay for PALEA members. Within three months PAL shall process the applications for re-employment of PALEA members who will be given priority for hiring in regular positions.

“We owe this hard-won victory to the steadfast fight of PALEA members and the fervent solidarity of workers, community and Church groups both here and abroad. PALEA’s victory is the victory of all workers,” Rivera explained.

“We thank PAL management led by President Ramon Ang for recognizing that an amicable settlement is preferable to continuing labor strife. We hope to build on this agreement and the protection of job security it provides towards rebuilding labor management relations in the flag carrier,” he added.

Meanwhile, hundreds of PALEA members gathered Thursday afternoon in the protest camp outside the PAL Inflight Center near Terminal 2 to hear a thanksgiving mass celebrated by Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo.

The group is also planning to hold a victory march, program and concert at the protest camp on Saturday.