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PhilippineAirlines: PAL operations 'normal' despite FASAP strike notice

Philippine Airlines (PAL) today (September 9, 2010) assured the riding public of continued and unhampered service despite a notice of strike filed by its cabin crew union.

"PAL's operations remain normal and all flights are operating as scheduled. There is no immediate work stoppage," PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna stressed.

She explained that the notice of strike filed by the Flight Attendants' and Stewards' Association of the Philippines (FASAP) commences a legal process by which the two parties, with guidance from the labor department, would find ways of striking a balance between what the union wants and what management can afford and is prepared to give.

Under the law, parties have a 30-day cooling-off period after the filing of a notice of strike. During this time the labor secretary will continue to mediate and find a compromise settlement. It is also within the labor secretary's authority to issue an assumption order which automatically enjoins the intended strike.

Villaluna said the union's plan to strike is ill-timed as it would scare away tourists and cause further damage to the flag carrier’s fragile finances. “We are saddened by the union’s decision, but we recognize their right to file a notice of strike,” Villaluna said. She added the union’s move is untimely in the wake of thousands of Hong Kong and Chinese tourists canceling their forward bookings in the aftermath of the Rizal Park hostage tragedy. “A strike threat doesn’t help in efforts to lure back tourists to the country.”

She added that management is willing to sit down again with FASAP leaders to discuss and settle any pending issues in the 2007-2010 collective bargaining agreement.

Villaluna said FASAP’s claims that they are overworked and underpaid are without factual basis. “PAL's cabin attendants receive an average gross monthly salary ranging from P30,000 to 80,000. They also enjoy enviable rest periods.”

She also refuted accusations of age and gender discrimination. “The early retirement age is part of the negotiated CBA FASAP leaders signed on two separate dates. They complain of alleged inequity of early retirement provisions when in fact the older batch of FASAP members, including the union leaders themselves, have been receiving and enjoying financial benefits in exchange for the younger retirement age of their colleagues,” Villaluna stressed.

On the claim that PAL discourages pregnancy among cabin attendants, Villaluna said there were at least 65 cabin attendants who went on maternity leave last year. “All of them received maternity benefits in accordance with the Labor Code and the CBA. PAL even advanced P30,000 in SSS benefits before they gave birth,” she said.

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