Philippine Airlines' inflight crew strike averted for now

8 Oct 2010

The Philippine government has stepped in to assume jurisdiction over the ongoing labour dispute between Philippine Airlines (PAL) and its cabin crew. On September 9, 2010, the union, consisting of 1,600 members, filed a notice of strike (see news).

This means that the inflight staff, represented by the Flight Attendants and Stewards’ Association of the Philippines (FASAP), cannot stage industrial action or work stoppage while the case is being adjudicated. PAL is also banned from rolling out any initiatives that could disturb the situation.

During this period, both groups are to submit their respective positions on the issues they failed to agree on: wage increases, retirement age and maternity/pregnancy-related benefits for resolution by the labour secretary.

The union had threatened to go on strike at the end of October, usually the start of a busy travel period in the Philippines with a school semestral break in early November and return visits of balikbayan (Filipinos based overseas) for the Christmas holidays.

The row is the latest in a series of labor problems to hit the carrier. In August, 25 pilots and first officers quit on short notice for higher paying jobs abroad, forcing several flights, mostly domestic, to be cancelled.

In 1998, PAL shut down all operations after a strike by ground staff amid massive losses brought about by the Asian financial crisis. The government later allowed the carrier to gradually rebuild its services while going into temporary receivership

Margie T Logarta

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