Affected workers say no to hefty PAL separation package

By Florence F. Hibionada/ PNS

Thanks but no thanks.

Such summed up the latest sentiments of Philippine Airlines (PAL) ground personnel who were offered a hefty separation package by the management.

With the continuing labor saga costing PAL millions in unrealized revenues, PAL Employees Association (PALEA) remains defiant and rejected anew the management’s offer.

To note, posts of some 2,600 PALEA members have been affected by Malacanang-backed PAL outsourcing.

“PAL separation benefit and gratuity pay for retrenched workers are out for the taking,” PALEA in a latest press advisory went. “But defiant members of PALEA cannot be lured over by a price tag that holds back their right to live a life of dignity.”

The bottom line, the group maintained, is regular jobs with PALEA president Gerry Rivera saying “We rejected the outsourcing plan because we value our dignity as regular workers. We lose it and we lose everything.”

And rightly so too, Rivera stressed as he hit PAL management’s separation package as “bereft of any good intention since the offer was in exchange for a grand surrender of everything a regular employee have had in his/her 20 or 30 years of service in PAL.”

Such as PALEA expressed optimism in eventually winning the labor battle inspired by what the group declared “growing local and international support…”

Through the Court or through the streets, PALEA believes victory is for the workers.

Latest PALEA protest saw the support of Bishop Broderick Pabillo. Pabillo is head of the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines–National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP-NASSA) and co-chair of the Church-Labor Conference (CLC).

“The Church has been very supportive of PALEA’s struggle against contractualization. Last October 8, during the 3rd Anniversary of CLC,Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales assured PALEA and all the suffering workers of the Church’s unequivocal support,” PALEA said.

Dubbed “spin-off,” the outsourcing had PAL management design a “Transition Benefits Package” to affected employees. The move has since been justified by PAL due to what it admitted as “deteriorating financial condition.”

“PAL is then constrained to undertake extraordinary measures – while keeping in step with a rapidly changing industry landscape – to ensure the Company’s survival and enhance PAL’s efficiency and competitiveness,” PAL management in the accompanying explanation in its package primer said.

“Employees who will not join the service providers will not be provided with the guaranteed one-year payment of salary cited…as well as the extended medical and hospitalization benefits in the transition package,” the company said.

On top of the rehire by service providers, each affected employee will also get a separation pay of 125 percent monthly basic salary for every year of service. There is also a P100,000 gratuity pay to be paid on the last working day of the employee or earlier.

Vacation leave and sick leave balances that are 100 percent commutable to cash will also be granted regardless of years of service.

Travel benefits for separated employee and his qualified dependents are also included with medical and hospital entitlements extended for one year from separation from PAL.

In Iloilo, PAL operations has since been significantly affected with only one turn-around flight now from the previous four flights daily. Normalcy is expected though starting October 28th.. And this, with at least P1.5 million in lost revenues here brought by the first three days of work stoppage alone by participating PALEA members.

Iloilo PALEA workers remained in posts though with the group not affected by the outsourcing move.