Photos: PAL operations crippled by PALEA strike

My business trip to Cebu was planned first week of September. Since two other bloggers and I were invited by Radisson Blu Hotel, the choice of the airline was not under our control.

I guess I was not aware of how widespread the strike was because I was more concerned of the damage from typhoon Pedring. See, it happened on the day of Typhoon Pedring. “‘It’s been two days since the Philippine Airlines Employees Association engaged in work-stoppage which the Philippine Airlines Management claims led to the 11-hour suspension of airport operations and the cancellation of almost 100 flights arriving and departing from PAL’s hub at NAIA Terminal ”



I arrived at Terminal 2 at 6:30 AM, two hours and half before my scheduled flight at 9:00 AM. The long lines that snaked across the wide lobby was surprising. Then I recalled listening to the news that ” almost 14,000 passengers were affected by the ill timed and illegal protest action that happened at the height of Typhoon Pedring.”



Only two counters were open to serve hundreds of passengers. Our flight at 9:00 AM is a 747 plane that can seat 400 passengers and it took two hours to get checked in.

I have ambivalent feelings about the strike. Though I sympathize with PALEA’s concerns with contractual labor, they should have notified the public beforehand. Ben Kritz adds that “..and as bad as PAL’s management is, the leadership of PALEA is even more stupid, and has almost willfully made every possible tactical mistake in dealing with this issue for more than a year. ”

And they wait until the 11th hour, 3 days before the outsourcing plan goes into motion, at the height of a typhoon, to stage an action that tries to earn support for their illogical position by pissing off the flying public. So how’d that work out for you, Mr. or Ms. “We have a right to job security?” Maybe not so well, I’d guess.

Though I didn’t have any urgent need to be in that flight, I felt the pain of the riding public. I noticed the patience and understanding of most of the passengers as they queued for their turn at the check-in counter.

I think the PALEA did not gain sympathy form these passengers. They have their own urgent reasons why they need to fly out of Manila. My flight took off at close to noon time. Though boarding was at 10:30 AM, I felt PAL wanted to accomodate as much passengers in the 747. The others are not as lucky and probably are not happy standing in line for more than two hours.

Even the president is not happy. He initially considered the move by PALEA as a form of ‘economic sabotage,’ but later decided to allow his legal team to look more closely into the work stoppage.” He said the group should have issued a 24-hour notice that its members would not go to work.

That is one reason I have mixed reactions. The protests in the past weeks from PISTON and students was publicized in advance so the public is aware of any inconvenience and in the process, get their support.

In this case, the strike did not bring much sympathy from the riding public. JC Maningat believes that “it was an ill-coordinated and ill-timed action due to union leader’s hasty tactics but that doesn’t delegitimize the valid concerns of PAL workers re livelihood and future of their families”

PALEA dismisses economic sabotage, illegal strike cases and announces big protest tomorrow. Here is their press release.

The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) dismissed threats of an economic sabotage case from the government and an illegal strike suit from the management of Philippine Airlines (PAL). “We are confident that PALEA’s protest against contractualization last Tuesday is within the bounds of the Constitutionally-guaranteed right to seek redress of grievances,” declared Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).

PALEA also announced that they will hold a big protest at the airport tomorrow which is the last day of work for 2,600 PAL employees affected by the outsourcing plan. The union has already set up a protest camp outside the PAL In-Flight Center along

MIA Road

near Terminal 2 where several hundred PALEA members are staying at any one time. “We call on PALEA members to report for duty at the protest camp since PAL has locked us out of our workplace at Terminal 2 and other offices,” Rivera proclaimed.

Meanwhile the protest against outsourcing is escalating as PAL employees in outlying stations gear up to hold their own protests. Tomorrow PALEA and other labor groups are scheduled to hold rallies in Davao at the international airport and in Bacolod at the old airport. On October 1, a similar broad coalition of labor groups including PALEA will stage a Lakbayan from Cebu City to the Mactan International Airport at Lapu-Lapu City.

Rivera asserted that “We consider these threats as mere scare tactics that will not weaken the defiance of PALEA against the layoff and contractualization scheme of PAL. PAL employees are not stupid. We know the law.”

He explained that the penal provisions of Republic Act No. 9497 or the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines Act of 2008 refers to the disruption of airport services and damage to airport facilities, and does not pertain to stoppage of airline operations. “The airport itself and an airline company are two different entities. If R.A. 9497 prohibits protests and strikes at a private airline such as PAL then it contradicts the provisions of the Labor Code on the right to strike. But it does not. PAL employees are private sector workers that are expressly allowed by law to hold concerted actions and even go on strike,” Rivera contended.

However he reiterated that PALEA merely held a protest and did not hold a strike. “Goodluck to PAL if it can argue its illegal strike case. But we know it is just a threat intended to frighten PAL employees, similar to its repeated warning of administrative cases against protesting workers,” Rivera claimed.

He added that “Whoever advised PNoy on the economic sabotage case should be outsourced. The facts are clear that it was PAL which shutdown the company’s computer systems and other communication facilities immediately after the start of the protest, and then cancelled the flights that stranded passengers.”

Here are reactions in Twitter: