PAL hits FASAP's 'forum shopping' for filing case before CHR

September 21, 2010 12:10 pm 

By Mediatix P. Cristobal

MANILA, Sep 20 — Management of Philippine Airlines lashed back at disgruntled cabin workers for 'forum shopping' by filing case before the Commission on Human Rights even amidst ongoing mediation hearings at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

"By raising the same issues before the CHR, is Flight Attendants' and Stewards' Association of the Philippines (FASAP) forum shopping to gain media mileage and public sympathy? We believe DOLE should take this matter seriously and put FASAP to task for making a mockery of a legitimate and on-going legal process," the PAL said in a statement.

The FASAP filed a complaint before the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on the alleged anti-women and gender discrimination policies of the flag carrier Philippine Airlines' (PAL).

CHR Chairperson Rosetta Rosales received the complaint Monday, citing the violations of PAL are "obvious," and that the CHR will work together with the DOLE in resolving the issue.

FASAP president Roberto Anduiza said the original negotiations on the PAL management policies are anchored on three major points: the discriminatory retirement age, the mandatory pregnancy leave, and their wages.

In its statement, FASAP said that the PAL-FASAP Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) provides a compulsory retirement age, which is higher for males at 60, compared to females at 55. Moreover, the new hires are retired at the much younger age of 40.

FASAP proposes to have an equal retirement age for men and women, consistent with the Constitutional mandate declaring that the "State shall ensure the fundamental equality before the law of women and men" (Sec. 14, Art. II, 1987 Constitution).

FASAP also seeks to raise the retirement age of new hires, as the Constitution guarantees "equality of employment opportunities for all" (Sec. 3, Art. XIII, 1987 Constitution).

PAL reiterated that it was FASAP who filed a notice of strike before DOLE alleging violations of workers’ rights, ranging from maternity benefits, retirement age and pay. Since DOLE has primary jurisdiction over these labor issues, Philippine Airlines believes that the Labor Department is the proper venue to discuss and resolve them.

PAL expressed hopes the CHR will allow DOLE to perform its functions in accordance with law. It also hopes the CHR will be fair and impartial in handling this case, especially since current CHR Chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales has publicly taken a position on the PAL-FASAP issue even before she was appointed to head the Commission.

It added that President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III, no less, instructed DOLE to take the lead in resolving FASAP’s labor row with PAL management. But by using multiple venues, FASAP seems to be putting the President and DOLE in a straightjacket. It wants to show that it can choose a forum where it hopes to get a favorable decision.

We maintain that in Philippine Airlines, nO workers’ rights have been trampled upon. Whatever salaries and benefits FASAP members enjoy are all contained in the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), it said.

A CBA is a contract between two consenting parties. It is mutually agreed upon through serious deliberations and negotiations between management and labor. FASAP, as a collegial body, entered into a CBA with PAL management not once but several times in the past. It must be stressed that all previous CBAs were decided not by a few but ratified by all members of the cabin crew union. (PNA) V3/MPC

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