Flight attendants of Philippine Airlines (PAL) have made good their earlier threat (see news) to go on strike. Yesterday, the cabin crew union, made up of 1,600 members, advised the government that industrial action would take place at the end of October 2010.
The group filed a strike notice with the labor department, which by law has 30 days to try to find a compromise between the airline and employees to prevent a shutdown.
Bob Anduiza, president of the Flight Attendants’ and Stewards’ Association of the Philippines (FASAP), was quoted as saying that the work stoppage would “ground PAL’s entire operations”.
PAL countered the move in a statement, which assured its customers of continued and unhampered service. A PAL spokesperson explained the notice of strike, filed by FASAP, signifies a legal process by which the two parties, guided by the labor department, would find ways of striking a balance between union demands and management capabilities.
The PAL union is protesting the airline management’s refusal to budge from its policy of retiring employees as young as 40 years old. It has called the “discriminatory” and “rooted in the outdated mentality that a plane’s crew was mere eye candy, rather than trained safety professionals”. Other issues FSAP was to address is raising cabin staff’s salaries to bring them on par with those offered by foreign carriers and implementing paid maternity leave.
FSAP officials have not decided on the actual date of the strike, but said they would make the announcement two weeks before the labour action, forwarning the public. They estimated that PAL could lose P40 million (US$903,000) up to P60 million (US$1.3 million) a day from the strike.
The development has come at a time when the Philippines is still reeling from a botched hostage rescue attempt on August 23, which left several Hongkong tourists dead and prompted the Hongkong government to raise a Black Travel Alert warning against its neighbour. The advisory will remain in place, officials have indicated, until the Philippine government concludes its investigation into the matter and submits its findings.
Margie T Logarta
Air China Limited, the coun