PAL seeks better government protection vs 'harassment'

11/02/2011 - National carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) called on the country's leading business groups to seek quicker and decisive government response against supposed harassment of private enterprises.

PAL conveyed its sentiments to business groups like the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (PCCI), Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI), Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), and the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCCI), among others.

"The recent incident where PAL's catering truck was blocked by protesting former workers armed with truncheons and planks with nails is one clear example of this kind of harassment seemingly tolerated by police authorities," the airline said, referring to the October 29 incident at PAL's in-flight center in Pasay City.

This has prompted PAL to say that it is in the best interest of all private businesses, big or small, to protect themselves against harassment like illegal blockades by former workers who have been validly and legally dismissed.

Sun.Star tried to reach MAP president Felino “Jun” Palafox for comment but he has yet to give a reply as of this posting Wednesday.

For its part, the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) slammed the call of PAL for “unholy alliance” among employer’s organizations.

“PAL’s Halloween appeal for help is a call for the forces of darkness to unite against the forces of good. In tagging Palea’s protest camp as harassment, PAL wants to subvert labor rights in favor of property rights,” PM chairperson Renato Magtubo said.

Some 2,300 workers from the catering, airport services and call center departments of the Lucio Tan-led carrier were forced to retire early last October 1 as part of the company’s outsourcing plan.

However, the affected ground workers who belong to the PAL Employees Association (Palea) rejected the plan and they have been occupying the in-fight center’s perimeter since September 28.

So far, PAL has been legally unsuccessful in dismantling the protest camp as it chided Palea for accusing them of hiring goons to violently disperse the protesters.

Leftist sectoral representatives have also been accusing PAL of harassing former workers while turning a blind eye on their “documented transgressions” such as denying exit to one of the company’s catering trucks last week.

Lawmaker seeks probe of incident

Meanwhile, Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casiño said he will file a House resolution “to get to the bottom” of last week’s scuffle.

PAL, however, finds the upcoming congressional probe with “no clear legislative intent” and with a plain objective of embarrassing PAL resource persons in attendance.

Casiño meanwhile expressed disbelief regarding accusations of PAL management, which is now preparing libel charges and property right violations against the protesters.

"PAL is projecting itself as being the victim here and they even have the gall to call for help from business groups. While PAL is only protecting their profits their retrenched employees are fighting for their lives and livelihood,” the party-list lawmaker said.

According to Casiño, PAL also refused to fly Palea members who had been issued airline tickets as part of their employee benefits before they were retrenched.

The airline confirmed the report, saying it has the right to “refuse conveyance to those who make false and malicious claims that the airline is unsafe and whose ultimate goal is to bring down the company." (Sun Star)

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