MANILA, December 24, 2010 (AFP) – Philippine Airlines has been told to pay millions of dollars in salary increases and scrap its age limit policy after the government ruled that cabin crew had been discriminated against.
The decision by Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz brings an end to a long-running row between the flag-carrier and the cabin crew union that had seen staff threaten a walk-out.
Andy Ortega, vice-president of the Flight Attendants Association of the Philippines hailed the decision, saying it addressed the main concerns of the unionâ€™s almost 1,600 members.
“We are extending our hand to PAL management and I do believe that now that this discrimination problem… has been removed, we can work together as one to make this airline great again,” he told ABS-CBN television.
The union had threatened a strike in September unless PAL increase pay and put an end to its policy of mandatory retirement at 45, which they said was aimed at forcing stewardesses to leave before they became old.
Baldoz ordered the national flag-carrier to carry out salary increases amounting to more than 200 million pesos (4.54 million dollars) over three years and raise the retirement age from 45 to 60.
PAL management could not be contacted for comment.
The Labor Department assumed jurisdiction over the dispute in October after efforts to mediate the conflict failed.
PAL, which is facing stiff competition from budget carriers, is also dealing with labor problems on other fronts.
The government has also been called on to settle a dispute with PAL’s 2,600-member ground crew union which is threatening industrial action over the airlineâ€™s cost-cutting and outsourcing plans.
In August, 25 pilots and first officers on PAL’s short-haul aircraft suddenly quit for higher paying jobs abroad, forcing the abrupt cancellation of several flights.
Ortega said that the decision regarding the cabin crew could be a “guide” to resolving the problems with other PAL workers.