30 September 2011

PALEA Troubles Stack Up

A dismayed President Aquino has ordered MalacaƱang lawyers to check whether Philippine Airlines (PAL) employees who staged a wildcat strike on Tuesday that canceled flights and stranded thousands of passengers could be charged in court.
The President said in Tokyo that he initially considered the move by the PAL Employees’ Association (Palea) a form of “economic sabotage,” but later decided to allow his legal team to look more closely into the work stoppage.
“I thought about that this morning,” he told members of the Philippine media delegation over coffee at the Imperial Hotel late Tuesday night.
Mr. Aquino said he had been informed about a previous meeting wherein Palea supposedly said 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 stop working. “They didn’t do any of those things and there was even a typhoon,” he said.
Source: Inquirer

I really sympathize with the PALEA (Philippine Airlines Employees Association) members but the way they are doing it is wrong. Although it is a labor issue, it is more of an image campaign. When watching the news, the image of inconvenienced passengers and motorists caught in traffic because of the striking members is gaining sympathy towards Philippine Airlines rather than the disenfranchised PALEA members. They are pictured as loud, angry and brash.

To give you an idea, it has been a common belief that PAL members have it all. Such as free trips anywhere in the world. Job stability that extends to their children (retiring employess are replaced by their kids who are eligible). And not to mention some experience with rude PAL employees when flying their airline. It seems that for a long time, the company is held hostage by this union. I may be wrong with this but this is the public perception.

Now that the tables have been turned, it's hard to sympathize with PALEA. I have friends in the union and they are hardworking individuals. But at this point, if they are shown in a bad light every time, it diminishes whatever support they get from the public.

Also the fact that they seem to brandish leftists slogans reminiscent of the Marcos era isn't helping either. It just scares the public away from them.

Now, with President Aquino siding with PAL, the chips continually stack heavily against them.

During the storm, it was shown how thousands of passengers were inconvenienced when according to media, these members locked down operations which resulted in their forcible ejection. The image of passengers who can't do anything juxtaposed with shouting PALEA employees isn't giving them any positive support.

There's even news that tomorrow, Friday, they will hold a rally that will tie up traffic inconveniencing motorists. If this happens, I think PALEA just hit the bottom of the barrel and whipped out a shovel.

I do understand that they have to let the public know of their plight. And that this is a serious issue for everyone since other companies may follow suit. But from the start, PALEA should have tackled this in an image perspective and PR campaign.