Laid-off PAL workers get support of Qantas Airways union
MANILA, Philippines—Protesting workers laid off by the Philippine Airlines on Sunday got the support of a labor union from Australia’s flag carrier Qantas Airways Ltd., which has also been locked in a bitter dispute with the airline over job security, pay hikes and working conditions.
In its message of solidarity, the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (Alaea), which represents Qantas engineers, declared: “All Alaea members stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with PAL Employees Association in their ongoing battle and will support them in their fight against unjust treatment.”
The Alaea said it would support Philippine Airlines Employees Association’s (Palea) efforts through the London-based International Transport Workers Federation for the “linking of all international affiliates” backing Palea members’ full reinstatement.
Gerry Rivera, Palea president, thanked Alaea for its support, adding, “International support will go a long way in sustaining and winning Palea’s fight.”
On October 27, members of labor unions and representatives of the Filipino-American community will picket the Philippine consulate and PAL ticketing office in San Francisco, California.
Rivera said the picket would be led by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, representing PAL customer agents working in the San Francisco airport.
On Friday last week, a delegation from the New York-based United Here, a group of workers in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, and airport industries in North America, delivered a letter of concern to the Philippine Embassy in Washington, DC.
The five-member delegation from the group met Luzviminda Padilla, a labor attaché, and presented her the letter for Ambassador Jose Cuisia. According to Rivera, the main point raised by Unite Here in its letter was that the Philippine government may be in violation of internationally recognized conventions protecting workers’ freedom of association, right to collective bargaining and right to peaceful concerted actions including strikes.
Also brought up by United Here was the concern that airline service has been deteriorating and that passenger safety has been put at risk by the allegedly untrained and overworked replacement workers who have been operating PAL, including the trans-Pacific route that has been conveying many US nationals.
Last October 14, a delegation of Japanese railway workers picketed the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo and also submitted a letter of concern regarding Palea’s plight.
This week, Palea will hold a “Lakbay-Hustisya” (Justice Journey) or a long march around Metro Manila in order to bring its advocacy against contractualization to the grassroots level.
“We will go to parishes and communities in Manila, Quezon, Makati, Parañaque and Pasay cities to seek the support of ordinary Filipinos in the fight for regular jobs,” Rivera said.
Palea is protesting PAL’s government-backed outsourcing scheme that resulted in 2,600 union members getting laid off beginning October 1. The carrier said the outsourcing would ensure the company’s survival and profitability.
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