PAL boycott campaign gains middle class support

MANILA, Philippines – This Christmas break, don’t fly airlines owned by the “Grinch.”

As thousands of riding public prepare for the Christmas season, various sectors have joined together in calling a boycott of Lucio Tan’s Philippine Airlines and Air Philippines in solidarity with the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA).

In a press conference, migrant groups, student councils and organizations, NGOs and international organizations have joined the bandwagon in supporting the “Don’t Fly PAL/AirPhil” campaign.

“Because of his greed, Lucio Tan has stolen Christmas of retrenched PAL workers. He acts like the true Grinch,” said Ricardo Reyes, president of Freedom from Debt Coalition.

Created by Dr. Seuss, the Grinch is a fictional character who first appeared as the main protagonist in the 1957 children’s book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Now, it is a term used to describe a person with a coarse and greedy attitude and opposed to Christmas time celebrations.

“It is almost Christmas time – our great Kapaskuhan, a time for families, friends, neighbors, and loved ones to gather, celebrate and share blessings with one another. But not for 2,600 of our kababayan PAL employees and their families who until now face the uncertainty of a prolonged deadlock due to Lucio Tan’s refusal to sit down with PALEA and address their just demands,” said Reyes.

“We are urging the riding public, particularly the students, government and private workers and OFWs to support the members of PALEA in their struggle against the mass lay-off, contractualization, and their fight to protect their job security. PALEA’s fight is also our fight. As riding customers, we can best support PALEA by hitting Lucio Tan where he hurts most – by not flying PAL and AirPhil, until he sits down with PALEA and address their just demands,” he said.

Agnes Matienzo of Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA): “In support of the 2,600 PALEA members who are unilaterally locked out and terminated by PAL, MFA continues to call on our fellow OFWs and partners/affiliates in over 16 countries in Asia not to fly PAL this Christmas unless Lucio Tan sits with PALEA and address their demands. PALEA members’ fight is our fight. As migrants’ advocate, we demand host countries to respect the right of our workers overseas to unionize and demand for just wages and job security. How do we expect destination countries to respect and protect the rights of our workers, if the rights of our local workers are blatantly violated? We shall never accept that the rights of our local workers are violated. The interest of 10 million OFWs and the interest of 2,600 PALEA members are one and the same. Boycott PAL and stop corporate greed!”

Shaina Santiago, Asian Institute of Tourism (AIT) representative to the UP Diliman Student Council, said that contractualization, as a labor policy, is a threat not only to the current labor force, but also to the students who are future workers.

Max De Mesa, chairperson of Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), said:“PAL workers are co-creators of the wealth of the company. Thus, not only should the quality of life of workers rightfully and proportionately improve as the company develops and grows – this is a collective aspect of the right to development. More important, they should be integral to the company itself. The owner’s and management’s decision to outsource as part of its overall contractualization plan is to deceptively cut-off its co-creators of corporate wealth under the false basis of ‘financial losses.’ This is corporate callousness. They have disjointed themselves from the same humanity as their workers so as to accrue profits primarily for themselves. The vaunted plan of separation benefits is no more than a ruse to distract from the truth of corporate greed and the deprivation of workers’ rights.”

Francis Lunag of the Urban Missionaries said that the contractualization of workers at PAL violates the dignity of human person. He said they will convince other priests, nuns, and even the bishops to not fly via the flag-carrier. “We will distribute flyers to our parishioners, put posters in front of our churches, and continue our support for the ‘Don’t Fly PAL/AirPhil’ campaign until this issue is resolved and benefits both parties.”

May-i Fabros of WomanHealth Philippines expressed empathy with the retrenched workers and encouraged Filipino women, especially those managing the household budget , not to consider PAL and Air Philippines on their travel arrangements.

National pride

FDC’s Reyes said that aside from corporate greed, union busting, human rights violations, labor code violations and compromised safety and service, another important reason why the Filipino people must boycott Lucio Tan’s airlines is what is at stake in the dispute.

“What is at stake here is our national pride, our identity with this institution called PAL. Despite the Government’s decision to privatize PAL, we all grew up knowing that it is our nation’s flag carrier, our symbol in the sky, our representative in global aviation. We take pride in the excellent ability of its pilots and ground crew to provide safe and comfortable air travel and to respond effectively during emergencies and unexpected mishaps. Now this national symbolism is heavily tainted by a bare-faced and shameless oppression of our very own Filipino workers,” said Reyes.

Snowballing support

Aside from FDC, MFA, PAHRA, Urban Missionaries and WomanHealth Philippines, other groups supporting the Boycott PAL/Airphil campaign are the following:

Migrant groups – Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA) – Philippines, DIWATA-Philippine Women’s Network in Greece, Kanlungan Migrant Center, and Unity of Filipino Migrants in Greece;

Student groups – KAISA – UP Diliman, CRUSADA – Ateneo de Manila University, Alliance of Progressive Students – EARIST, Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP), Kalayaan! Lihok Mag-aaram – UP Tacloban, Magkaisa-CSSP, UP Organization of Human Rights Advocates (OHRA), UP Alyansa, ARISE, Buklod-CSSP, PALS-NCPAG, START-AIT, UST Central Student Council, DLSU-CSB Student Council, UP Diliman AIT Student Council, UP Diliman CHE Student Council, Bukluran Student Alliance – PLM, Akbayan Youth, Sanlakas Youth, Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK), and Youth for Nationalism and Democracy (YND);

Civil Society Organizations – Integrated Rural Development Foundation (IRDF), Active Citizenship Foundation, Assalam Bangsamoro, Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms (IPER), Institute for Popular Democracy (IPD) and Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ);

International organizations – International Transport Workers Federation, Jubilee South-APMDD, and Coalition against the Trafficking of Women-Asia/Pacific (CATW-AP).

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