Airline unions are set to join the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) in a “Global Day of Action against Outsourcing” spanning four continents on Thursday. The September 27 action coincides with the anniversary of PALEA’s protest last year that led to the cancellation of all flights of Philippine Airlines and marked the start of a bitter fight over contractualization at the flag carrier.
Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) asserted that “We frequently hear the alibi that outsourcing is an international trend that workers have no choice but to bear. But the reality is that resistance to outsourcing is a global phenomenon.”
“If airline workers take industrial action, on the same day, in a coordinated way, all over the world, the struggle against job outsourcing will be stronger and more effective,” asserted the groups which are coordinating for the global day of action. Aside from PALEA, the Turkish civil aviation union Hava-Is, Qantas unions, the Lufthansa flight attendants union UFO, Canadian airline workers union CAW-TCA, Air India unions, UNITE-HERE in the USA and the Australia Asia Worker Links are participating.
Together with the labor coalition Nagkaisa, PALEA will stage a rally at Mendiola on September 27 and then hold a motorcade to the protest camp after. Simultaneous mobilizations are also planned in Cebu at the PALEA picketline near the Mactan International Airport and in Davao at the downtown area. Meanwhile rallies, leafleteering, mass meetings and other protest actions at airports are to be held in Melbourne and Sydney in Australia, Istanbul in Turkey, Frankfurt in Germany, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg and Saint John in Canada, Mumbai in India and Honolulu in Hawaii. Solidarity messages have also been extended by labor centers and unions in Hong Kong, Seoul, Hanoi and San Francisco.
As a build up to the day of action, last September 21 PALEA held a “Jog for Regular Jobs” around the perimeter of its protest camp in Manila and a mass meeting to commemorate the union’s 66th year. “PALEA @ 66 pledges never again to outsourcing,” declared Rivera. The day of action was several months in the making with the International Transport Workers Federation starting the ball rolling by endorsing it in a meeting of the Asia-Pacific civil aviation section meeting in Kuala Lumpur last July.
Similar to PALEA, the groups participating in the day of action are embroiled in labor rows over job security and working conditions. Hava-Is is demanding the reinstatement of 305 members dismissed over protests against a controversial government ban on strikes in the aviation industry. Qantas management grounded its entire fleet last year in response to rolling strikes by its pilots and ground crew.
UFO recently won substantial concessions including limits to outsourcing after a strike that disrupted Lufthansa’s flights. CAW-TCA and other Air Canada unions were involved in disputes over pay and outsourcing, just like Air India workers. The hotel workers union UNITE-HERE is campaigning for a boycott of the global hotel chain Hyatt over a host of issues including use of contract labor.
PALEA also announced that on October 8 Nagkaisa will hold a picket at House of Representatives to push for the plenary discussion of the Security of Tenure bill. “It is not just the bills for reproductive health and freedom of information that are jammed at the legislative mill, but other real social reform measures such as the security of tenure bill which seeks to restrict the epidemic of contractual work and the proliferation of 6 months endo jobs,” Rivera explained.