The sight of bedlam and confusion in NAIA’s Terminal 2 greeted us last September 27 as we watched the news on TV. The reason is not Typhoon Pedring but a man-made disaster: the mass termination of some 2, 600 employees of the Philippine Airlines.
While many passengers were understandably irate at the inconvenience, occasions missed, or loss of opportunities caused by cancelled flights, we believe and feel that things much bigger are at stake in what happened at the airport that day.
The first is our sense of justice. For ten years, from 1998 to 2008, the employees of PAL, organized as PALEA, agreed to suspend their CBA rights so that PAL, then in the abyss of bankruptcy, could survive and recover. When PAL recovered and started to profit big like last years’ P 3 billion, PALEA started to negotiate for a new CBA.
Lucio Tan’s reply is yes but after outsourcing 2, 600 jobs, meaning terminating 2, 600 workers as regular workers, and rehiring them to three outsourced companies owned by Lucio Tan also as contractuals with pay almost half what they used to get. After sacrificing, the employees have been disposed of.
At stake here is our sense of rights, human rights, labor rights.
The right to decent job, to job security is part of the right to work which is a basic human right, enshrined in international human rights covenants – the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (IESCR, 1976) and in our Constitution. But in the case of PAL, Lucio Tan brushed this aside, and Government through DOLE and the Office of the Executive Secretary became a willing partner by putting “management prerogative “ over fundamental rights. When PALEA staged a protest action, the protesting workers were thrown out of the airport and summarily dismissed and denied of separation pay and other legitimate entitlements.
At stake here is our national pride, our identity with this institution called PAL. Despite the Government’s decision to privatize PAL, we all grew up knowing that it is our nation’s flag carrier, our symbol in the sky, our representative in global aviation. We take pride in the excellent ability of its pilots and ground crew to provide safe and comfortable air travel and to respond effectively during emergencies and unexpected mishaps. Now this national symbolism is heavily tainted by a bare-faced and shameless oppression of our very own Filipino workers.
At stake here is our sense of solidarity and caring for fellow Filipinos, fellow workers and fellow human beings. What is a few hours of inconvenience or of flights delayed compared to months, even years of having no jobs or source of regular income for 2, 600 workers and their families if they lose in this fight? We all know what accompany the loss of job of a breadwinner: children unable to continue with their studies, less food on the table, little buffer against sickness, accidents, disaster and other misfortunes, and lowered dignity for the jobless parents and adult in the families. ALL THIS – TO MAKE THE SUPER-RICH LUCIO TAN EVEN RICHER.
We cannot allow this injustice to happen to our PALEA brothers and sisters! We support PALEA! We are all PALEANS!
Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL)