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News » International

Airline workers seek Church support

Union accuses government of colluding with management

Airline workers seek Church support

Airline workers tear up copies of the decision of the Labor department preventing them from going on strike

D’Jay Lazaro and Lourdes Abelardo, Manila International

April 6, 2011

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Philippine Airlines (PAL) workers today turned to the Catholic Church for help after the government turned down calls to stop the airline from outsourcing some of its services. The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA), one of the oldest unions in the country, accused the administration of president Benigno Aquino of colluding with the airline management. “The office of the president closed its eyes to the fact that PAL will retrench [workers] despite a $1.6-billion projected annual profit,” a union statement said. “We appeal for the support of the Church. We believe that in this case, the Church will be pro-RH, that is in in favor of 'regular hanapbuhay' (work), which is the essence of the demand of PALEA,” said Gerry Rivera, PALEA president. “This is not an impossible dream… employers need only be guided by Christian teachings on sharing the fruits of production,” Rivera said. He said the workers “believe that Church-labor solidarity is just as important as the labor unity forged in support of PALEA’s fight for regular jobs.” Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, chairman of the National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace of the Catholic bishops’ conference, criticized the government decision allowing the “conversion” of PAL’s permanent employees to temporary ones. “These are permanent jobs and then we will allow the company owners to turn them into casual (workers)? That is why this is not a good precedent, not only for PAL, but for other companies here in the Philippines,” the bishop said. He said the government should not treat laborers as commodities that should be subjected to cheap labor. “These people should be given their benefits. We should not short-change them. We should prioritize labor over capital,” Bishop Pabillo said. The airline workers on Wednesday said they will to organize protests through the social networking site Facebook. "We plan to test the law and defy the assumption and certification order of the Labor secretary which has been abused to deny workers their means of defense," said Rivera. PM13885.1648

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