Philippine Airlines (PAL) said the scheduled meeting between the airline management and its ground crew union in Malacanang this Friday is part of the Palace dispute resolution mechanism and not a negotiation for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
“The PAL Employees Association can interpret the Palace-initiated talks any way it wants, but the PAL management is not going there to discuss any CBA,” PAL president Jaime Bautista said.
He explained that the pending legal issues before Malacanang are: 1) whether the Office of the President can re-assume jurisdiction over the spin off issue which was twice recognized by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) as a valid exercise of management prerogative; and 2) PALEA’s appeal to reverse the said DOLE ruling allowing such spin off.
Bautista said that as clearly stated in Malacanang’s Order, the purpose of Friday’s conference is to explore avenues towards an amicable settlement of the labor dispute, and/or to elicit facts and information. “The labor dispute adverted to in the order is PALEA’s pending petition for intervention and not the union's request for commencement of the CBA negotiation,” he stressed.
While it’s true that he told PALEA leaders to submit their proposed panel members in preparation for a CBA negotiation, Bautista said this would not push through until after Malacanang has ruled on all pending issues before it.
“Pending final resolution of the most important legal issues in Malacanang, talks of a CBA negotiation would have to wait,” Bautista stressed.
By bringing up the supposed “finalization of the CBA” in Malacanang, Bautista said PALEA leaders are spreading “false hopes” among its members that PAL has abandoned its planned spin off. Besides, he stressed, PAL and its union must be able to negotiate a new CBA independently and without any government pressure or intervention.
“PAL’s position has remained unchanged: the spin-off is a necessary element of its survival strategy. But in deference to PALEA’s pending appeal in Malacanang, the spin-off’s implementation has been held in abeyance,” he explained.
Bautista said it would be absurd to negotiate a new CBA while a lot of legal questions are pending before the Office of the President. “What if the Palace ultimately decides in PAL’s favor? What happens to the new CBA? We believe that it’s best to negotiate a new bargaining agreement with those who would be left behind if the spin off is finally implemented,” he stressed.-Philippine Airlines