Friday, August 19, 2011

People first before profit

“The points raised by PALEA in its motion for reconsideration are mere rehash of those considered, discussed and ruled upon by the Secretary of Labor…” declared Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa as he endeavored to justify Malacanang’s approval of PAL’s plan to terminate and outsource approximately 2,600 employees.

Ochoa’s pronouncements dashed the hope of thousands of workers who had appealed to Malacanang to end the labor row by way of harmonizing the interests of both the workers and the PAL management. Instead, his statement suggests the government’s insensitivity to the predicament of the workers.

The repetitive points raised by PALEA, which failed to impress Malacanang, only reflect the apprehensions felt by its members in the face of impending job loss. They failed to recognize the fact that the “rehash” merely indicates PALEA’s persistence to appeal for the reversal of the flawed and unfair decision issued by former labor secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, and which Malacanang now sanctions. By calling the spinoff program a management prerogative, the government precariously confers license to contractualization and random termination that could set precedence to other violators of labor laws.

In the midst of this turmoil, the CBCP-National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace expresses solidarity with the members of PALEA, especially the 2,600 workers, who face unemployment. At the same time, we express grave disappointment over the government’s manifest partiality towards PAL, whose recent financial report belies claims of “massive losses”.

We believe that the outsourcing and spinoff program was conceived mainly to dismantle the union and abolish its collective bargaining powers. Such a move by the management is a poor recompense to the very same people who worked hard for nine years to pull PAL out of fiscal insolvency in 1998. We fail to grasp the extent of their thirst for profit especially in the wake of their anticipation to rake in P1.6B in annual revenues.

The government has done a grave disservice to the people. While it has responsibility to recognize the rights of employers to protect their business interest, it has equal responsibility to ensure that they do so within the bounds of labor law. Any action to the contrary already borders on political favors and unjust concessions.

The Church maintains its appeal for a just resolution of this case. Government decisions must be conducted within the prescriptions of labor’s primacy over capital – people first over profit. We continue praying that the government may finally find the wisdom to render pro-people decisions and provide opportunities for the workers and the management to work tirelessly for the common good.

In this we remind President Aquino’s promise to the people: Kayo ang Boss ko!

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