The mass resignation of PAL pilots, the impending strike by the cabin crew union, the struggle of ground employees against mass termination and contractualization — all of these are interrelated. “It all stems from Lucio Tan’s moves to increase his profits even more by intensifying the exploitation of all his employees in the aviation industry.”
By MARYA SALAMAT
Related story: As Though 11-Year CBA Suspension Not Enough, PAL Employees Face Layoffs, Contractualization
MANILA – The way Philippine Airlines management and some members of the press spin the story, many of the airline’s pilots were motivated by nothing else but money when they resigned en masse the past week to seek employment elsewhere, causing cancellation and disruption of domestic and foreign flights.
But what happened this week at the country’s flag carrier is just one of the results of the systematic degradation of working conditions there, beginning with the company’s decision to spin off certain crucial operations in order to cut costs and increase profit. This resulted in the firing of workers and the contractualization of those who remained.
For four days now, some regional and domestic flights of Philippine Airlines were canceled or disrupted as 27 pilots resigned so they could move to other airlines that offered them better job packages.
Although PAL management said on Tuesday that its flight operations were now back to normal, it is feared that more resignations might follow soon. Pilots interviewed by Bulatlat said the situation remains “very sensitive.”
Earlier, PAL management has threatened to file charges in court against the pilots who resigned, citing “breach of contract” and “debts” owed them for the cost of their aviation school training. Labor secretary Rosalinda Baldoz has echoed PAL management’s denial that the pilots’ mass resignation had nothing to do with the labor disputes in PAL. Baldoz has also suggested a longer notice, which is dubbed as a “slavery bond” in other countries, before pilots can leave PAL for overseas jobs.
Members of Anakpawis PAL chapter and PALEA hold a picket to denounce the spin-offs and contractualization at the airlines. (Photo courtesy of Anakpawis PAL Chapter)
On Monday, airline management met with officials from government to discuss the problem. Worried at the veiled threats against pilots in the statements of the government — from President Aquino to his labor secretary — and at the PAL management’s explicit threats of filing charges, the progressive labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU or May First Movement) urged the Aquino government to push PAL management to address the causes of the labor dispute in the airline.
“We know it would be the pilots, not the PAL management, who would be hardest hit when government takes legal action,” Elmer Labog, KMU chairman, said in a statement. He asked the Aquino government to “side with the employees” and to view the mass resignation as an SOS not only by the pilots but by all PAL employees.
Today, PAL president Jaime Bautista announced in a press statement that the government “requested PAL to take back the resigned pilots without sanctions. We agreed.” But Bautista warned that “if the pilots will not heed our appeal to return to work within the specified period, the company will seek proper remedies.”
Bautista added: “There is no labor dispute as far as the pilots are concerned. Their main reason for leaving is purely on financial or economic reasons.”
Nothing, according to pilots and workers Bulatlat interviewed, could be farther from the truth.
The mass resignation of pilots that PAL is trying hard to control now is “not a labor dispute” in the eyes of the Department of Labor and Employment and PAL management only because PAL had broken up the pilots’ unions 12 years before. In 1998, as today, PAL was also complaining of losses. In 1998, PAL had profitably used “losses” to justify gaining more concessions and attacking its employees, recalled Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano.
Since 1998, PAL has entered and exited a rehabilitation plan and paid off its loans but clearly at the expense of thousands of its employees, as can be seen in today’s simmering labor disputes between the management and the pilots, cabin crews and ground employees.
Per aviation industry standards, PAL pilots are given “lower salaries” than their counterparts in other airlines, according to pilots interviewed by Bulatlat but who requested anonymity, citing a gag order by management, among others.
But more than the salary, the resentment among the pilots and first officers is rooted in the way the company treated them. A co-pilot revealed that the mass resignation began with the forced resignation of 11 co-pilots who earlier refused to be transferred to Air Philippines, a budget airline also owned by business tycoon Lucio Tan.
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si lucio tan din ang dahilan ng pagteterminate ng British Airways sa route na Manila-Hongkong-London heathrow….. ehh kse nman ayaw ni lucio tan n tanga n may kakompetensya sa hongkong route ng PAL… Ehh di nman sya nagtagumpay kse simula ng dumating Ang Cathay pacific airways n flag carrier ng hongkong… ay wla ng ngawa yang lucio tan n yan…. tanga yang lucio tan n yan…. sana nga balang araw alisin n yan lucio tan yan….. ang iniisip lng niyan pera lng…….
Si Mr Tan malaki ang kinikita sa PAL at nakikinabang. Ayaw lang niya magbayad sa empleyado niya. Ito ang pinagkakitaan ni Mr Tan mula sa PAL:
1. MAINTENANCE NANG EROPLANO. Ang LUFTANZA TEK ay dating pagaari ng PAL na pina spin-off, iniba lang ang pangalan at pagaari na Mr Tan. Nagbabayad ang PAL dito at lahat ng airline para sa maintenance ng eroplano.
2. CATERING. Ang MACROASIA ay dating pagaari ng PAL na catering ng pagkain sa lahat ng eroplano ng PAL at ibang airline. Pina spin-off ni Mr Tan at ngayon dito nagbabayad ang PAL.
3.PLC. ito ang training center ng PAL kung saan nagbabayad ang PAL kay Mr Tan bilang upa sa building niya.
4.FOOD and DRINKS. Lahat ng inumin at pagkain ng PAL tulad ng Virgin Cola, ABSOLUTE water, PORK galing FORMOSA farms, etc ay lahat pagaari ni MR TAN na binabayaran ng PAL.
Malalim ang sugat at damage na ginawa ni Lucio Tan sa PAL…Unang-una sa mga employees-ground staff and flying crew. Simula ng take-over ni Mr. Tan ang PAL, hindi na natahimik ang company…Marami syang ginawang naiiba na ikinapangit ng Airlines!!! Binale-wala nya ang lahat na inumpisahang magandang image na ating FLAG CARRIER, never syang nakinig o nagbigay respeto sa hinaing ng mga empleyado, especially the flight crew. Maling-mali yan!!! There MUST always be an UNDERSTANDING, RESPECT, COMMUNICATION,
FAIR NEGOTITION, FAIR and SINCERE AGREEMENT between concerned parties.
I don’t think this is happening!!!
With Lucio Tan???!!! I will not be surprised…Puro salapi ang puso ng taong yan, at hindi maka-tao. Otherwise all these terrible issues won’t be happening,
in the first place. MASYADO NYA NANG INAAPI ang mga piloto at cabin crew for the longest time!! Mahirap lang sya talaga kalabanin because he could get the best and expensive lawyer. At siguradong tanggal sa work ang mga nagrereklamo.
Kung alam nyo lang lahat ang ginawa ng Air Philippines na yan sa mga pasahero nila last month- Cebu to manila. Flight was 10 hours delayed ha…they let all the passengers suffered inside departure lounge without food and drink till the flight left at past 6 a.m. the next day..! People started checked-in at 9pm for the 10:45 pm flt for manila. The aircraft door was hit and damaged by something, we exactly not sure what it was. I was one of those unfortunate pasenger and with me was my daughter. Maraming babies na nag-iiyakan, gutom, pagod, antok.
Pero, lahat ng yan ay NASIKMURA ng management na matiis ang agony ng mga pasahero the whole night. Alam ko na may nag-uutos sa manager-Cebu na galing sa taas sa manila. Sino yun?? Sa tanda kong ito at sa experience ko with any other airlines-domestic or international, HINDI GINAGAWA ITO SA MGA PASAHERO!!!
PARATING INUUNA ANG SAFETY AND COMFORT NG BAWAT PSAHERO…NO MATTER WHAT IT TAKES!!
Hindi ko kayang panoorin at tingnan lamang ang kawawang kalagayan namin sa loob ng departure lounge for 10 hours.
Pano nila nasikmura ito?
Lahat ng yan ay dahil sa PERA!!!!!
Ayaw nilang gumastos!!!! AT! ayaw din nilang ipamigay sa ibang airlines ang mga ticket na hawak na nila!!! SAKIM!!!!
Well, I happened to be a former flight attendant in the 70’s- 80’s, that is why I know or should i say, I know the PROTOCOL sa situations like this. At alam ko din pina-creeping delay nila para MAKA-IWAS sa gastos sa pag book sa hotel ng mga pasahero and food.
Kaya sa tindi ng galit ko at around past 5 a.m. at lahat ay wala nang pasensya, at mayayabang pa sa pagpapalusot ang ground staff- PINAGBABATO ko na mga radios nila!!! Mga WALANG SILBI na mga staff!!!
Mga walang backbone, tanga, walang decision, kulang sa training, walang experience. Saan ba nila kinuha ang ganung klaseng employees??? Wala ring mga
Also, the ground staff didn’t handle passengers with connecting international flights! We only learned about those passengers when they approached us screaming at the counter of pre-dep.
This was truly a NIGHTMARE to all of us.
Passengers MUST BE FULLY COMPENSATED!!!
NO MORE EXCUSES!!! PERIOD!
Passengers have voluntarily submitted their names and contact nos. to me.
In time we will all submit our complaint
to someone who will and CAN address this
violent and HINDI MAKATAONG pag handle sa mga pasahero. Ito si Lucio Tan…mayaman, magaling mag-negosyo pero brutal sa kapwa. TAO BA SYA??!!!!
Now, tell me…he did it to his own people sa airlines, and he did it to his passengers TOO!!?? What’s next?
eh paano rin kung kunwari lang lugi ang kompanya? hindi ba dapat ang sahod ng piloto, sa kapwa piloto natin ikumpara, hindi sa ibang trabaho?
eh papano kung nalulugi ang kompanya? hindi ba napakataas na nang sahod ng mga piloto kumpara sa ibang trabaho sa Pilipinas? ganyan talaga, kung ang domestic help ay nangingibang bansa din dahil sa sahod. natural lang siguro sa mga piloto, liban lang may kontrata silang pinirmahan at payag ba silang magbayad ng multa sa pagsira nilang mga piloto ng kontrata dahil sa kanilang paghanap ng masmalaking sahod?
Bravo! You hit it! Please take note also how convenient that in GMA News (http://www.gmanews.tv/video/64230/abusive-treatment-not-salary-forced-pal-pilots-to-quit-jobs) the video is missing.