Philippine Airlines: Philippine Airlines Labor Conflict

Philippine Airlines (PAL) President Jaime Bautista called on Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP) to seriously consider PAL’s offer to end the labor row that has been affecting both parties for over three months.

“I wish to assure FASAP members that PAL management is not taking a hardline stance. Despite serious financial difficulties, the company bent backwards to provide FASAP members what it believes is a fair amount of pay increase and benefits that it can afford at this time,” Bautista stressed.

The call was made at the resumption of conciliation talks between PAL management and FASAP at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). The tripartite conciliation conference is the fourth meeting since FASAP filed its notice of strike last September 9, 2010. Three conciliation conferences between both sides have been held under the auspices of DOLE.

PAL last week offered P105-million economic offer, up from previous P80 million deal, as well as the proposed retirement age of 45 for those hired by the airline after November 2000.

Saying that PAL is sincere in its efforts to put closure to the 2005-2010 CBA, Bautista said the company is hopeful that FASAP will also show some degree of flexibility.

“Nothing less than a true meeting of minds is needed to resolve the current impasse,” he said.

As of the last round of talks, agreements “in principle’ were only on maternity–related benefits, and rice allowances amounting to P25 million. The agreement between both sides must be forged as a “package” -– in order to settle all economic, gender and retirement issues.

Bautista said P105-million -– from the original P80 million -– is PAL’s best offer, given massive losses of US$ 312 million or over P15 billion in the last two years.

Meanwhile, the early retirement age is “benchmarked” on PAL’s major competitors in the region whose cabin crews are retired between the age of 35 and 45.

As a precondition to the change in retirement age to 45 from the current 40, PAL is pushing for the mixed crew complement. The set up will allow both international and domestic crews to work side-by-side.

“By allowing domestic crews to fly international and international crews to fly domestic routes, we hope to achieve two things: 1) allow domestic crews to experience flying abroad to earn more in terms of per diems and other allowances; and 2) maximize utilization of PAL crew members, thus reducing need to hire more cabin attendants and therefore save on costs,” Bautista said.

“But more than anything else, the mixed crew proposal would give domestic cabin attendants the recognition they so richly deserve, apart from giving them international exposure which is the main reason why they are with Philippine Airlines in the first place,” Bautista stressed. (PNA)

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