PAL assures passengers no strike, business as usual

The Philippine Airlines (PAL) has assured the riding public that there will be no immediate strike from its ground and cabin crew unions. 

PAL president Jaime Bautista remains hopeful that PAL, with the help from the Deparment of Labor and Employment (DOLE), can still find a peaceful and amicable solution to PAL’s labor problems.

 “After all, “PAL management continues to talk with the union representatives. We believe the negotiating table is still the best venue for resolving differences.” 

Bautista assured PAL passengers that labor strikes – especially in public utilities like PAL — do not happen overnight.

“There is a legal process involved which all parties must respect and adhere to, before any lockout or strike can materialize,” he explained. 

PAL has lined up measures like deployment of administrative staff and other personnel to help in case of emergency.

“As part of our conditions of carriage, we commit to our passengers that we will bring them to their destination whether through extra flights or through PAL’s domestic and international interline partners,” he said. 

PAL has a total of 134 interline partners – 12 airlines in Southeast Asia; 11 in the USA and Canada; 25 in Europe; 12 in the Middle East; 3 airlines in Japan; and 10 airlines in China. “In case of flight disruptions, our passengers can rest assured that we can transfer them to these airline partners,” Bautista explained. 

As this developed, PAL urged DOLE to resolve the pending motions for reconsideration filed by both the PAL management and the PAL Employees Association (PALEA) regarding the airline’s  planned spin-off of three non-core units. 

At a DOLE-initiated conciliation meeting, PAL representatives stressed that the planned spin-off is crucial to the company’s survival. Thus, they urged DOLE to uphold its earlier ruling recognizing the spin-off of PAL’s catering, groundhandling and call center units as “a valid exercise of a managerial prerogative.” 

“PAL has presented and fully explained all the evidence in support of the spin-off. It cited all the factors that led to PAL’s current financial difficulties and the legal basis for the spin-off as an integral part of the airline’s survival plan. We hope DOLE will dismiss the motion for reconsideration filed by PALEA (PAL Employees’ Association) since PAL urgently needs to implement cost-cutting measures as it fights for survival,” Bautista said. 

He explained that almost all airlines in the world are concentrating on their core business of flying and operating aircraft. Most, if not all, have given up non-core businesses and simply engaged the services of third parties that can provide cheaper and more cost-efficient products and services.

He also stressed that PAL is not engaging in ‘contractualization’ as claimed by its ground crew union. “PAL is not hiring contractuals. It is selling its catering, groundhandling and call center units to interested third parties who are experts in operating these businesses,” he said. 

Bautista added that the more than 2,600 PALEA members to be affected by the spin-off will be paid one month’s salary for every year of service. They are likewise guaranteed employment by companies who will take over PAL’s catering, groundhandling and call center units.

“Contrary to PALEA’s claim, no worker will be left on the street, except those who will not take the job offered by the service providers,” PAL stressed. 

He also belied PALEA’s claims that the workers will eventually be hired by companies owned by PAL Chairman Lucio Tan.

“This is not true. A classic example is the case PAL’s call center which will eventually be taken over by e-PLDT Ventus, a unit of publicly-listed PLDT controlled by Mr. Manny Pangilinan, not Mr. Tan. He dismissed PALEA’s claims as mere ‘propaganda’.