PAL: Protesting workers face abandonment raps

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 02 2010 10:47 AM | Updated as of Nov 02 2010 08:24 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Philippine Airlines (PAL) President Jaime Bautista on Tuesday warned striking employees that they may be charged with abandonment of work if they join the protest march to the historic Don Chino Roces Bridge (formerly Mendiola) near Malacañang on Tuesday.

"Employees should continue to attend to their responsibilities. They cannot just leave their posts. They can be charged with abandonment," Bautista said during an interview with ANC's Headstart on Tuesday morning.

Bautista said those who may be charged with work abandonment are on-duty employees who will be joining the march from the office of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to Don Chino Roces Bridge.

The protest march was set after DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz issued a decision, allowing the mass layoff of some 2,600 PAL workers.

Baldoz's decision upheld an earlier order of former acting Labor Secretary Romeo Lagman, giving the green light to PAL's plan to outsource 3 non-core operations and lay off workers.

The labor chief assured that there will be "no immediate joblessness" since those who are facing lay off will be absorbed by the companies that will be outsourced by PAL management.

PAL wants to outsource its call center reservations, in-flight catering and airport services units to be financially viable.

The Philippine Airlines Employees' Association (PALEA), the ground crew union at PAL, slammed Baldoz's decision, saying it meant "the death of job security."

PALEA president Gerry Rivera said Baldoz's decision belies President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III's promise of "daang matuwid."

"Nasaan ang pagbabago sa gobyerno ni P-Noy? The Halloween order of Labor Secretary Baldoz merely reiterated the midnight decision of former Acting Labor Secretary Romeo Lagman that mass layoff is management's prerogative. So is there any difference in the labor policy of Aquino and Arroyo?" Rivera said in a statement on Tuesday.

He said at least 300 PAL employee and supporters will join the protest march.