Strike looms as PAL-FASAP talks fail anew

By Ira Pedrasa, abs-cbnNEWS.com

Posted at Oct 05 2010 04:04 PM | Updated as of Oct 06 2010 09:45 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Flight Attendants’ and Stewards’ Association of the Philippines (FASAP) will finally hold its strike by the end of the month or early November, unless the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) steps in in the interest of the entire country.

Not one provision has been agreed upon by the union and the management of the Philippine Airlines (PAL) in the last 5 meetings, including one held on Tuesday, with the National Mediation and Conciliation Board (NCMB).

Both parties remained adamant, resulting in another impasse on issues such as economic (wage increase and rice allowance), gender discrimination (maternity leaves) and retirement age in Tuesday's last conciliation meeting.

PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said it is high time that Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz resolve the case by intervening and deciding what is best for all parties.

This means PAL already wants the labor secretary, or the President himself, to issue an “assumption of jurisdiction” order.

This is the last remaining option to avert a strike. If an assumption of jurisdiction order is issued, the labor secretary automatically directs the striking workers to go back to work.

Strike vote starts next week

In an interview with abs-cbnNews.com, FASAP Vice President Andy Ortega said it is unfair that PAL had to ask for the DOLE’s intervention.

All issues should already have been resolved at the negotiating table, he added.

Instead, what PAL did was to give a concession in exchange for another—still an advantage for the management, he added.

Ortega cited, for example, the mixed-crew provision where junior flight attendants can join their seniors in international flights.

He acknowledged, however, that both parties’ fates are now in the hands of Baldoz.

Absent any order, FASAP will begin its strike vote next week, he said.

Based on labor rules, a majority number, or 50% plus 1, is needed to pursue a work stoppage. FASAP has 1,600 members.

He believes that Baldoz will be fair in handling the labor case.

“Last week (September 28) would have been our fourth and last meeting with the NCMB, but we agreed to meet again (today) out of respect for the labor secretary,” Ortega added. - with a report from Alex Santos, ABS-CBN News