Protest forces PAL to cancel all flights


Posted at Sep 27 2011 10:01 AM | Updated as of Sep 28 2011 12:30 AM

All international and domestic flights grounded until 6 p.m.

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - Philippine Airlines (PAL) has cancelled all domestic and international flights up to 6 p.m. Tuesday as a protest rally by its ground employees affected its operations, according to PAL Spokesperson Cielo Villaluna.

The Philippine Airlines Employees' Association (PALEA) began its protest action which started at around 7 a.m. Tuesday, despite the heavy rains brought by typhoon "Pedring". PALEA is protesting the impending lockout on October 1 of 2,600 PAL employees, who are affected by the outsourcing plan.

"Sa mga pasahero ng PAL, huminigi kami ng paumanhin dahil sa work stoppage ng mga ground workers. Ang affected ay ang check-in agents, remote controllers at catering. Hindi kasama ang flight crew, piloto at cabin attendants. Nagdeploy na ang PAL ng mga management employees para pumunta sa field at mag-take over. As a contingency measure, ang lahat ng flights ay cancelled sa araw na ito September 27 hanggang 6 p.m. habang inaayos ang sitwasyon," Villaluna told dzMM. 

Villaluna said the legal department are talking with the PALEA members to resolve the situation. "Claro po na hampering airport operations is a crime. Ito ay violation under RA 9497, that prohibits any form of obstruction of airport operations," she said.

On its official Twitter account (@flyPAL), the company said all flights in and out of Manila are cancelled "due to illegal work stoppage by the airline's ground crew union."

All flights will resume at 6 p.m. (September 27) beginning with PR145 to Iloilo, PAL said.

Meanwhile, PAL employees in airport services, in-flight catering and call center reservation departments, which are set to be outsourced, are leading the protest.

"PALEA has decided to act now instead of waiting for the onslaught of the outsourcing typhoon on Friday. This is the mother of all protests against layoff and contractualization.  Nobody will go home and we will not back down until our demand for job security is met," said Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa.

"We call on PAL to begin talks for a settlement to the labor dispute. PALEA demands a stop to the outsourcing plan. We call for the opening of negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). In the CBA negotiations, we can discuss measures to make PAL viable except outsourcing," Rivera added.

PAL has already sent termination notices to the affected employers, as the airline implements the outsourcing of its catering, call center and ground services on October 1.