Cabin crew gives PAL 'last' chance to avert strike

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 04 2010 03:51 PM | Updated as of Oct 04 2010 11:51 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The cabin crew of flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) has warned that Tuesday's meeting at the labor department is the airline's last chance to address the woes of its flight attendants to avert a planned strike.

"The ball is now in PAL's hands. Tomorrow's last-ditch efforts for conciliation at the Department of Labor (DOLE) is PAL's chance to come clean and address the discrimination against its female flight attendants," said Bob Anduiza, president of the Flight Attendants’ and Stewards’ Association of the Philippines or FASAP.

Anduiza had said the meeting would be a "make or break situation" as this would determine if they would push through with the work stoppage.

Anduiza reminded PAL that it "should not wait for a strike or pass the buck to the DOLE secretary to correct its anti-labor and gender-biased policies."

The 1,600-strong FASAP plans to go on strike by the end of October after PAL repeatedly rejected its demands for a pay rise.

It is also demanding paid maternity leave and an end to a company policy that forces female air hostesses to retire at the age of 40.

The government has called both sides to attend a meeting on October 5 in a last-ditch effort to avoid a strike.

"As the country's flag carrier, PAL should set the example on equality and fairness. As things stand today, PAL is anti-worker and anti-female We hope PAL management will take the opportunity tomorrow to correct this image of the national flag carrier," Anduiza said.

DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said that if PAL and FASAP fail to reach an agreement on Tuesday, she would assume jurisdiction over the dispute, making a strike illegal.

Malacañang, meanwhile, warned it would hasten the adoption of the open skies policy.

The planned strike is the latest in a string of labor problems to hit PAL.

In August, 25 pilots and first officers on the airline's short-haul aircraft suddenly quit for higher paying jobs abroad, forcing the abrupt cancellation of several flights.