Strike threat looms over Philippines Airlines

20 Aug 2010

Less than a month after its domestic flights were disrupted by the sudden resignation of 25 pilots (see news), Philippine Airlines (PAL) faces the grounding of its fleet as the airline's cabin crew threaten to strike.

Negotiations between PAL management and the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Phillippines (Fasap) collapsed as reach a consensus could not be reached outstanding issues.

The 1,600-strong PAL flight attendants are protesting a new policy that would require those hired after November 2000 to retire at the age of 40 and an unfair maternity policy that would enforce pregnancy leave without pay, with all other benefits suspended during the remaining months of a flight attendant's pregnancy.

The carrier also can meet only half of the cabin crew's demand for a PHP160 million (US$3.5million) financial package under its Collective Bargaining Agreement, citing the airline's PHP15 billion (US$333million) loss over the last two years.

Fasap vice-president Andy Ortega, said that they withdrew from negotiations on August 17 because PAL “is not willing to address the major issue of retirement”, adding that the union will file a strike notice over the next two weeks.

The Philippine Airlines Employees Association and the Association of Airline Pilots may join the strike.

Meanwhile, PAL is assuring passengers that a strike cannot happen overnight once Fasap files its notice to strike.  The country's Department of Labor and Employement is mandated to hold a mediation hearing that can last for 30 days.

Alisha Haridasani

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