Thursday, September 29, 2011

Various reactions on the PALEA strike

It's been two days since the Philippine Airlines Employees Association engaged in work-stoppage which the Philippine Airlines Management claims led to the 11-hour suspension of airport operations and the cancellation of almost 100 flights arriving and departing from PAL’s hub at NAIA Terminal 2. Further statements from the airline company say that almost 14,000 passengers were affected by the ill timed and illegal protest action that happened at the height of Typhoon Pedring.

Among the more interesting statements I read came from Gerry Rivera, the President of PALEA, who said in a statement that employees weren't able to access their computers after the passwords were changed.

Yet another statement comes from The Big Yellow Cheese himself. President Benigno Aquino the Third was quoted in an article on the Philippine Daily Inquirer that he: 
ordered Palace lawyers to check whether Philippine Airlines employees could be charged in connection with the cancellation of flights triggered by their work stoppage amid heavy rains Tuesday." 
The President said he initially considered the move by the PAL Employees’ Association (Palea) as a form of 'economic sabotage,' but later decided to allow his legal team to look more closely into the work stoppage." 
Mr. Aquino said he had been informed about a previous meeting in which Palea was reported as saying its members had “no plans to embark on such an activity.” He said the group should have issued a 24-hour notice that its members would not go to work. 
“They didn’t do any of those things and there was even a typhoon,” the President said. 
Quoting a provision in the Civil Aviation Authority Act of 2008, he said the employees could be “penalized with imprisonment ranging from one year to three years or a fine of not less than P50,000, but not exceeding P500,000 or more as determined by the court.”  
Considered as “acts leading to the disruption of airport services,” he noted, was the refusal of an employee to “perform tasks such as personally manning checking counters, to check in passengers.”
Meanwhile, in the blogosphere, blogger and Journalist Raisa Robles needles PAL over an apparent attempt to mislead people with semantics, specifically with the word "non-core personnel"
I can’t help but notice that a sit-down protest held by PAL’s ground employees yesterday totally paralyzed company operations and caused 14,000 passengers to miss their flights.  
Didn’t PAL keep saying – to justify the sacking of several thousand employees – that what they were out-sourcing were “non-core” activities?  
“Non-core” would mean that these activities are not that vital to their day-to-day operations, right?  
And yet when these “non-core” personnel struck yesterday, company operations were turned into total chaos.
Robles then leaves a link to a previous article where she underscores her abilities an an investigative journalist. Robles essentially tries to contextualize PALEA's strike, somewhat suggesting it is a justifiable recourse despite what the Civil Aviation Act of 2008 says.

American blogger Ben Kritz, who has studied and written about the airline industry, registered a more astute observation in the comment section of yesterday's article:
Divesting business units is a management prerogative.  
Believe me, I'm about the last person in the country to give PAL props for the way they run their business, but the outsourcing plan is completely beyond the purview of labor relations. 
And as bad as PAL's management is, the leadership of PALEA is even more stupid, and has almost willfully made every possible tactical mistake in dealing with this issue for more than a year. 
PALEA has never argued that the separation packages were unfair -- an argument the public might understand and be sympathetic to -- but instead that PAL should not be allowed to go through with the spin-off, which defies basic logic. 
And they wait until the 11th hour, 3 days before the outsourcing plan goes into motion, at the height of a typhoon, to stage an action that tries to earn support for their illogical position by pissing off the flying public. So how'd that work out for you, Mr. or Ms. "We have a right to job security?" Maybe not so well, I'd guess.
In the storm surge of negative reactions against PALEA's strike, noted Tattaward Nominee and Social Media Guru Carlo Ople offered free advice:
Build a Website that tells stories
When PALEA declared a strike the most common reaction you get from people is either “nanaman?” (again?) or “bakit?” (why?). There is no emotional connection with the strike and the audience. Instead of harping on how PAL is allegedly mistreating them they should focus on telling stories of human interest. This can be in the form of stories of the impact of the lay-off on several employees. Take all of these stories and put them on one central platform — a website. Tell the story in different ways: photos, videos, and text. Integrate the website with social media to pump up the chances of the issue spreading to raise awareness. Most importantly put a way for readers to signify their support. A good idea would be making an online petition via Facebook so that it’s as easy as one click 
Charm Offensive
 Another possible idea is to go on a charm offensive. Delight the usual people who take flights in an extraordinary way for a day and generate buzz online and via traditional media (get press to cover). One good example of a campaign is KLM Surprise.
Just this morning, Noemi Dado aka @momblogger tweeted a picture of PAL's counter with remarks that only two were open.

@momblogger tweets: “Off to Cebu for business trip. PAL has only 2 counters open to serve this crowd. ”
The rest of Pinoy Twitterdom registered mixed reactions with the more prominent ones noting the wrong timing of the PAL strike:

@grettelism di ba you used to work for @flyPAL? You think they'll be able to see eye to eye with #PALEA? 

@ZiaAlontoAdiong @khairyalonto @PrincessTarhata it really is unfair. Dapat may job security din sila. #PALEA

@elvinching12  Palea lost public respect! 
@iloveruffag This is the truth, and PAL management paid the media to make PALEA look bad.

 @rosymina Thought the PALEA strike was so untimely. But my bro said the strikers had good timing--they didn't disrupt the flight scheds, Pedring did.

@Olidex  @lesterhallig curious, do you agree with what the palea employees did?
@Bai_Ashrafia  @khairyalonto @ZiaAlontoAdiong I think #PALEA asked the CA to invalidate PAL's outsourcing plan. I just don't know how it was resolved. 
@khairyalonto @ZiaAlontoAdiong yes, #PALEA is striking because@flyPAL is going to outsource.

@dakila_ph  When your job is being taken from you, you have no choice but to fight for your family's future. #PALEA

@PrincessTarhata @ZiaAlontoAdiong #PALEA is on a strike because the employees are against the outsourcing plan of @flyPAL

@darwinrona  Now I know #PALEA's issue. It's sad many of them worked 4 PAL for like 20 years so a "contractualization" deal is really unfair to them.

@LovingGreyson Lucio Tan, if you're the one who said to lay off PALEA members, I will loathe you forever and hope you die a slow and painful death.

@chabdru I feel for PALEA employees. It just seems so unfair to them.

@MangBurns did somebody told #PALEA that an employer can terminate employees who participated in illegal strikes? <-- Good point. What were the leaders of PALEA thinking?

@leloyclaudio @yogon the PALEA workers have very few other options. They don't have tenure.

@stellarleni @humanoid1988 Pls understand that #PALEA workers are being illegally forced out of their jobs & have no choice but defend their job.

@ZiaAlontoAdiong @Bai_Ashrafia palea strike is about job security; i believe a lot were laid off and services were outsourced

@marccastrodes Palea has a valid cause but striking at this time of serious natural catastrophe is wrong! They couldn't have picked the worst time. Bad.

@marisolvirola Pls understand that #PALEA workers are being illegally forced out of their jobs & have no choice but defend their job.

@JerbertB @ANCALERTS report not true. PALEA members remain strong,steadfast, committed to fight PAL's bullying.

@itsmeStellaA @ogiediaz ang dapat gawin sa mga PALEA members na yan, lunurin sa baha.

@chrismillora RT @leloyclaudio: For those inconvenienced by the PALEA strike, blame the company and not the workers.
@AnuBaDay RT @leloyclaudio: For those inconvenienced by the PALEA strike, blame the company and not the workers. - I agree.
@rjkarunungan well, it's up to them ... #PAL and #PALEA
27 minutes ago

@filipinadiver Now I know #PALEA's issue. It's sad many of them worked for PAL for like 20 years so a "contractual" deal is really unfair to them.

@VinceCura I feel for palea employees, but seeing a swarm of anti-riot police at naia2 is just not the right image we want to show tourists.

@BigD899 If PALEA was hoping for sympathy with what they did today, good luck. Still, i hope their grievances gets addressed.

@leloyclaudio For those inconvenienced by the PALEA strike, blame the company and not the workers.

@shawievaldez I think it was wrong timing for the PALEA employees to have their strike, on a critical situation pa naman! Wrong move! Tsk tsk tsk

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