[Statement] CHURCH LABOR CONFERENCE Statement of Support to the Struggle of the PALEA and the Filipino Workers

CHURCH LABOR CONFERENCE Statement of Support to the Struggle of the Philippine Airlines Employees Association and the Filipino Workers

Workers are recognized in the Constitution as the primary social economic force.  They have the right to unite and form unions.

“The Church teaches that workers have a right to unite in free associations for the purpose of defending their interest and contributing as responsible partners to the common good.  Such associations should be protected by laws which should not restrict their activities, but should guarantee the free pursuit of the social welfare of their members and of all workers.” (Speech of John Paul II to the people of the sugar plantation in Bacolod City, Philippines, February 20, 1981)

The Church Labor Conference strongly condemns the action of the Aquino administration when it approves the outsourcing plan of the Philippine Airlines that will result in the massive contractualization of more than 2,600 employees of the flag carrier of the country.

It seems that the unemployment caused by the Middle East unrest and calamity-stricken countries is not enough.

The Aquino administration unveiled its true color when the Department of Labor and Employment ruled in favor of the Philippine Airlines outsourcing plan and the Office of the President recently affirmed and supported the DOLE’s decision. This is despite of the fact, that there are laws to be followed in the exercise of  “management prerogative” in the said outsourcing plan. This “prerogative” has limitations set by law, collective bargaining and general principles of fair play and justice

There is no valid cause for PAL to terminate their regular employees to whom PAL owes its business success.  PAL’s financial statement shows that they are not in precarious financial situation because they are earning a huge amount of Php3 billion every year (please check this data). This amount can easily cover the costs of PALEA’s collective bargaining proposal for 2008-2013. PAL has also reported expansion of aircraft fleet in the past years.

According to the Philippine Labor Code, serious financial losses are necessary grounds for retrenchment. The employer should show its expected abatement of losses in the coming year, and that the condition of the company is not likely to improve in the near future.

Therefore, to retrench employees and outsource regular posts at a healthy financial condition is an outright disregard in the prevailing laws of the land. These actions of PAL, with the approval of the Aquino government, only show the real intention of being anti-worker.  They do not guarantee workers’ right to self-organization, collective bargaining and security of tenure. Dismantling the union and curtailing its collective bargaining powers are the real intensions of the outsourcing plan.

By calling the spinoff a management prerogative, Malacanang precariously confers license to contractualization, random termination and a “Fire all you can” policy—a gateway to a contractual Philippines.

We say however: “Walang Dangal sa Trabahong Kontraktwal”!

The PAL workers have sacrificed more than enough when they agreed to CBA moratorium during the 1990s. They sacrificed their right and benefits from collective bargaining to help the company survive the financial crisis.  As the company geared towards a multi-billion industry,their ingrate way to return the favor is to outsource non-core departments, reducing workers to becoming contractual workers.

Malacanang unmasks its camouflage and shows its insensitivity to Filipino workers in legitimizing and honouring PAL’s outsourcing plan.

We are afraid that the PAL union (PALEA) would push for their last resort of defense which is by launching a strike or work stoppage to protect their source of living. We support them in this.

The Catholic Social Teachings teaches us:

“One method used by unions to pursue the just rights of their members is the strike or work stoppage.  Strikes are recognized by Catholic social teaching as legitimate in proper conditions and within limits. Workers should be assured the right to strike without being subjected to penalties for taking part in a strike.”  (Pope John Paul II, Laborem Exercens # 20)

We, the Church and the broad labor coalition under the Church Labor Conference are appealing for a just and equitable resolution to this labor dispute.  Pope John Paul II through his encyclical Laborem Exercens stresses labor’s primacy over capital – people over profit.

Thus, we all should follow this principle if we are true apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.

September 5, 2011

National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA)
Archdiocesan Ministry for Labor Concerns (AMLC)
Urban Missionaries-Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (UM-AMRSP)
Labor’s Advocacy for Reform Movement (LABOREM)
Little Sisters of Jesus (LSJ)
Kayumanggi-Urban Missionaries
Federation of Free Workers (FFW)
Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL)
Partido ng Manggagawa (PM)
Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP)
Philippine Metal Association-AIWA
Kapasinanan ng Maralitang Obrero (KAMAO)
Labor Education for Research Network, Inc. (LEARN)
Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino (AMP)
United Cavite Workers’ Association (UCWA)
Fortune Tobacco Labor Union (FTLU)
Solidarity of Unions of the Philippines for Empowerment and Reform (SUPER)
Pagkakaisa ng mga Manggagawa ng Valenzuela (PAMAVA)
Zone One Tondo Organization (ZOTO)
Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralitang Lungsod (KPML)
Rosario Workers’ Association (RWA)
Unified Filipino Service Workers (UFSW)
San Beda College Union (SBCU)
KANLUNGAN Migrant Center
Manggagawa Para sa Kalayaan ng Bayan (MAKABAYAN)
Kilusan Para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KPD)
KPMK-Alab Katipunan
Nagkakaisang Lakas ng Manggagawa-Katipunan
Pagkakaisa ng mga Manggagawa sa Transportasyon (PMT)
Liga Manggagawa (LM)
Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Pilipinas-National Federation of Labor Unions (KPMP-NAFLU)
Association of Displaced Workers (ADW)
National Labor Union (NLU)
Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA)
National Union of Building Construction Workers (NUBCW)



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