CA: No unfair labor practice in PAL Express launch

by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 08 2013 07:12 PM | Updated as of Jul 09 2013 03:13 AM

MANILA - The Court of Appeals (CA) has absolved Philippine Airlines (PAL) from allegations of unfair labor practice in connection with the airline's rehabilitation efforts in 2008.

In an 18-page decision by its 13th Division, penned by Associate Justice Michael Elbinias, the appellate court junked the petition of the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP), and affirmed the findings of the Labor Arbiter and the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) which had dismissed the case of FASAP in connection with the launch of 'PAL Express' in 2008.

"[T]he findings of the Labor Arbiter especially when affirmed by the NLRC, are accorded due respect and even finality, and are binding upon the court," the decision read.

PAL entered into a Cooperation Agreement with Air Philippines Corp. (APC) on May 2, 2008, and part of the agreement included the services of flight deck crew. PAL subsequently launched 'PAL Express' on May 5 of the same year.

To operate PAL Express, PAL hired personnel from APC.

FASAP, which is composed of some 1,500 members, alleged that PAL committed unfair labor practice and filed a case against PAL President Jaime Bautista.

PAL secured a favorable ruling from the Labor Arbiter on June 10, 2010, later affirmed by the NLRC on March 17, 2011.

FASAP lost in its bid to collect close to P14 million in damages, representing lost productivity pay; P1.4 million as lost per diem allowances, P78,000 as lost union dues, moral damages of up to P7.5 million, and exemplary damages amounting to P5 million.

The appellate court ruled that PAL did not violate its Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with FASAP.

"[N]o showing was made that the agreement between private respondent PAL and APC reduced petitioner FASAP's strength, capacity, authority and power to act as the legitimate labor organization dealing with private respondent PAL's management.

"No displacement and no limitation of work and pay resulted to the members of petitioner FASAP from the operation of the PAL Express," the decision read.