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Baldoz stops PALEA from holding nationwide strike

MANILA, Philippines -  Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz yesterday stopped the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) from holding a nationwide strike.

“I transferred the case to the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC). It’s for the commission now to decide,” Baldoz said in a telephone interview.

The stoppage of the projected strike came on the heels of PALEA’s decision to go on a nationwide strike to demand the start of negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with management.

“PALEA is 100 percent ready for a strike that will paralyze the operations of Philippine Airlines (PAL) that, in cahoots with the Aquino government, wants to deny workers the right to regular jobs and a CBA,” said PALEA president Gerry Rivera.

The Labor chief was expected to assume “jurisdiction” of the case but she said that she could not exercise this option since the CBA dispute did not end in deadlock.

“It was not a deadlock. This concerns unfair labor practice so it’s an NLRC case. But the effect is the same, they cannot hold a strike while the case is being heard,” she clarified.

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Rivera earlier said the “only thing that can prevent a strike is for PAL to heed the demand to stop outsourcing and open CBA negotiations without preconditions.”

PALEA members and supporters yesterday held a rally at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 as a “dress rehearsal” for the work stoppage yesterday when the strike ban imposed by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) ended.

“This mass action is an expression of the unity of the labor movement in the common fight for regular jobs and against the government’s policy of contractualization. This is also a dress rehearsal for the nationwide strike,” Rivera said yesterday, unaware of Baldoz’s last minute move.

He reiterated that while PAL stands to earn $1.6 billion in profit this year, “it refuses to share the fruits of production with its employees via a CBA.”

“PAL’s workers have already sacrificed with a 12-year CBA suspension that has resulted in the stagnation of wages, benefits and working conditions,” said Rivera.

Baldoz sides with FASAP

On another labor-related issue at the flag carrier, Baldoz affirmed her previous decision favoring the demand of the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP) that PAL raise their retirement age.

Baldoz said PAL had failed to show “new evidence” that would warrant a reversal of her Dec. 23, 2010 decision, raising the retirement age of cabin crew from 40 to 60.

In her ruling, Baldoz agreed with FASAP that the 40-year-old retirement age set by PAL “constitutes a clear discrimination of their right to equal work opportunity.”

The labor chief had also junked PAL’s “no motherhood” rule, where flight attendants were required to take prolonged leave without pay during pregnancy. 

Under the resolution, female flight attendants are entitled to two pregnancy leaves for a maximum of seven months for each leave, to be credited in computing the length of service for retirement, 13th month pay, Christmas bonus, rice allowance, and trip passes.

They are also given maternity leaves for a maximum of four deliveries and these should be credited in computing the length of service for retirement, 13th month pay, Christmas bonus, rice allowance, and trip passes.

FASAP president Roberto Anduiza thanked Baldoz for upholding the rights of PAL flight attendants.

“The struggle to address age and gender discrimination in Philippine Airlines has been a life long battle for FASAP, and this decision helps greatly to correct the injustice against the female flight attendants,” Anduiza said.

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