In a hearing yesterday at the Pasay Hall of Justice, members of the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) asked the city prosecutors to dismiss the violation of Civil Aviation Authority (CAAP) law case filed by the management against them in the aftermath of the September 27, 2011 protest that crippled the operations of Philippine Airlines (PAL). In an allusion to the mythical Spartans, PALEA President Gerry Rivera declared that “The respondents to the case, the PALEA 300 are brave men and women who will die fighting instead of surrendering to tyranny by PAL.”
The PAL management alleged in its complaints that PALEA members caused the destruction of some airline equipments during their September 27 protest, a charge vehemently denied by the union. The actual respondents to the case are 258 but PAL in previous press releases has claimed that some 300 PALEA members joined the September 27 protest.
In a picket to coincide with the hearing, PALEA insisted that the case was part of the many harassment cases thrown at PALEA members after the union strongly opposed PAL’s outsourcing plan. The next hearings are scheduled for February 2 and 9.
“We eat PAL harassment cases for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” stated Rivera. He claimed that “PAL is blindly shooting nuisance cases at PALEA members in a desperate bid to force them to accept the separation package and sign up for the illegal labor contractors Sky Logistics and Sky Kitchen. Some of the 258 named respondents were active participants in protests before and after September 27 but were on day off that fateful day.”
The union asserts that no company equipment was ever damaged during the September 27 protest. Instead the union knows that it was the improper use of an airstep by an inexperienced and unskilled scab that caused an accident where an Airbus A340 with aircraft ID 3430 plane door was dented.
Rivera asserts further that PAL services deteriorated sharply after September not because of damaged equipments but due to lack of skilled and experienced manpower after PALEA members, in opposition to contractualization/outsourcing, refused to transfer to assigned service providers.
“Up to now, more than three months after the outsourcing, passenger complaints of faulty services by contractual scabs working at PAL are piling up. It is therefore not the equipments but the flag carrier’s reputation that is being badly damaged,” declared Rivera.
PALEA insists that PAL’s waning reputation and deteriorating quality service can only be saved by getting its regular workers back. Supporters of PALEA are calling for a boycott of PAL and its sister company Air Philippines until the laid off workers are reinstated to their regular jobs.