Union launches protest caravan vs PAL outsourcing

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 13 2011 01:04 PM | Updated as of Jun 14 2011 02:24 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Members of the ground crew union of Philippine Airlines (PAL) launched a protest caravan Monday afternoon against the flag carrier's alleged plan to hire contractual workers starting June 16.

The PAL Employees' Association (PALEA) said PAL will outsource some jobs to another Lucio Tan-owned service provider, MacroAsia Corp., as part of plans to fully "contractualize" regular positions.

PALEA said the move will worsen their ongoing dispute.

"We are ready to defend our jobs and the union if PAL does not back down from deploying contractual workers on Thursday," said PALEA president Gerry Rivera.

Rivera said PAL, which is facing a manpower shortage after some employees sought higher-paying jobs abroad, has asked MacroAsia to work the departure gates for a period of six months.

He said the union had objected to the plan, and urged the rehiring of former PAL employees or trainees who were not employed due to a freeze hiring program.

"The union considers the temporary outsourcing plan a backdoor implementation of the controversial contractualization plan at PAL," noted Rivera.

But PAL denied PALEA's claim, saying the airline is hiring directly to fill in vacant positions.

"There will be no partial outsourcing on June 16. The protest actions of PALEA today are without basis," PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna told ANC Dateline Philippines.

PALEA has been at odds with airline management over a plan to outsource non-core units and the absence of a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

PALEA wants a new CBA, and is opposing a Malacañang-approved plan of PAL to outsource its airport services, in-flight catering and call center operations. The outsourcing to third-party providers would shave off nearly 3,000 jobs at the airline.

PALEA members have threatened to hold a nationwide strike to paralyze the operations of PAL.

The Labor Department maintained that there was no deadlock in labor talks, and that the dispute is now under the purview of the National Labor Relations Commission. The agency warned PALEA against holding a work stoppage, pending the resolution of the case.