MANILA - Philippine Airlines (PAL) has yet to officially file its notice to retrenchment, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) head said Tuesday evening, as dismissal looms for thousands of its workers.
"They have not officially informed us of their plan to terminate or go into a retrenchment program," Labor Sec. Silvestre Bello III told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo, adding he yet has to meet with the flag carrier's officials on Wednesday.
Bello clarified his office yet has to receive any notice regarding PAL's retrenchment plans, since DOLE's regional offices could obtain it first before it gets sent to the agency's central office.
The labor chief said PAL will have to explain its reason to reduce its workforce, although the flag carrier has already pinpointed the losses it has incurred due to COVID-19 pandemic.
"'Yung pandemic itself is a valid reason," Bello said.
The flag carrier last October said it may let go of up to 35 percent of its over 7,000 workers as air travel continues to suffer worldwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It said it has began to call on employees to apply for voluntary separation, which is the first stage of the company's manpower reduction initiative.
"The retrenchment is part of a larger restructuring and recovery plan as the flag carrier rebuilds its domestic and international network amid the global pandemic," PAL said.
According to the airlines, since the onset of pandemic last year, it has suspended capital expenditures, adopted a skeletal work force, reduced management salaries, and slashed non-essential expenses to control costs while shareholders infuse capital and provide funding to keep the company afloat.
Bello said affected PAL workers can avail of DOLE's financial assistance and livelihood program once they are retrenched.
The labor chief meanwhile said he would also meet with cigarette maker Philip Morris over its own retrenchment program. According to Bello, around 300 may be dismissed from the company.