MANILA, Philippines - Members of the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) held a big rally on Friday, a day before their contracts with the flag carrier expire, in a last-ditch bid to stop PAL's outsourcing program.
PALEA members and their supporters marched from the Our Lady of the Airways Parish to the In-Flight Center in Pasay City.
The protest action followed a work stoppage implemented by the group earlier this week to paralyze PAL's operations. Seventy-one domestic and international PAL flights remained cancelled on Friday due to lack of manpower.
Some 2,400 PAL employees, mostly members of the labor union, will be laid off on Saturday, October 1. On the same day, PAL is outsourcing its catering, call center and ground services to third-party service providers.
PALEA president Gerry Rivera said the group will not back down on their demands. They have a pending petition before the Court of Appeals, questioning the legality of the spin-off at PAL.
"Hindi ito ang aming huling araw ng paglaban, kundi umpisa," Rivera said.
But PAL management maintained that the outsourcing program was within the rights of the company. It said this would ensure PAL's long-term survival and save the jobs of its remaining 5,000 employees.
"The law is on our side. We're implementing the outsourcing program not on mere whim or caprice but on the basis of legal and valid orders from the Department of Labor and Employment and the Office of the President. We're doing it to save the airline from financial ruin," PAL president Jaime Bautista stressed.
He said PAL would no longer go back to the negotiating table with PALEA.
"The DOLE and the President have spoken; PALEA has filed their appeal with the appellate court. Let's just wait for the CA's action on this matter. We have nothing more to talk about. The time for diplomacy is long over, especially after the union's wildcat strike," he said.
PAL, according to Bautista, lost millions of dollars due to PALEA's "illegal" strike. - Report from Zen Hernandez, ABS-CBN News