The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) picketed the New Zealand embassy in a show of solidarity for the embattled Port of Auckland workers. “We extend the hand of solidarity to our brother and sister wharfies who are for fighting for job security and better working conditions. The struggles they are waging mirror the same demands that we are currently fighting for at Philippine Airlines,” declared Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa (Labor Party-Philippines).
He added that “The fight against outsourcing and contractualization is a global battle being fought by Auckland wharfies and AFFCO meat workers in New Zealand, PAL employees in the Philippines, Qantas workers in Australia and longshore workers in the US.” Members of PALEA picketed the New Zealand embassy along Buendia in Makati by 10:00 a.m. A delegation went to the embassy premises to deliver a letter of concern.
The picket was in response to the call for support by the International Transport Workers Federation, a global union federation of some 5 million workers in 155 countries. PALEA’s letter also expressed concern at the struggles of locked out meat workers at AFFCO and striking rest care workers of Oceania in New Zealand.
The PALEA protesters shouted “Ang laban ng wharfies ay laban ng PALEA. We are all wharfies.” Rivera explained that “PALEA condemns the drive by the management of Port of Auckland—as well as AFFCO and Oceania—to slash labor costs, undercut labor standards and weaken job security, all in the name of competitiveness.”
The Port of Auckland strike is arguably the biggest labor dispute in New Zealand at the moment. Some 300 port workers have been dismissed after going on strike and in the midst of contract negotiations. Moreover port management has announced that it will outsource its stevedoring services.
PALEA’s letter of concern stated that “We urge the government of New Zealand to address the demands of workers at the Port of Auckland, AFFCO and Oceania. New Zealand is signatory to international labor conventions that guarantee basic workers rights and labor standards, and thus bound by its provisions. The international labor movement would ensure through solidarity actions that your government provides an environment in which workers rights and welfare is secured.”
Rivera insisted that “We will be monitoring the situation at the Port of Auckland, AFFCO and Oceania. We will continue to hold solidarity actions until our concerns have been acted upon in the interest of the workers of New Zealand.”