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PALEA members bring labor row to Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Pope Francis (MNS Photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – Some of the ground crew of flag carrier Philippine Airlines brought their labor dispute with PAL management to the Vatican, after a Philippine Catholic Church official brought their letter to Pope Francis.

The PAL Employees’ Association had written the Pope seeking his “intercession” for a “just conclusion” to the dispute.

“We seek the intercession of Your Holiness to achieve a just conclusion to the labor dispute,” an article posted on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines quoted PALEA pesident Gerardo Rivera as saying in the letter.

The CBCP quoted PALEA as saying an appeal from the Pope to the stakeholders in the dispute “will exercise moral suasion and may prove decisive in a settlement fair to the workers.”

PALEA said more than 2,600 regular PAL workers were laid off in September 2011.

Its call against contractualization and for decent work and regular jobs has the support of the CBCP National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace (NASSA) and some bishops.

Last Thursday, NASSA executive secretary Fr. Edwin Gariguez handed the PALEA’s letter to Pope Francis during an audience.

Gariguez was in Rome to attend the 50th anniversary celebration of the Encyclical “Pacem in Terris” from Oct. 2 to 4.

The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace organized the event in Vatican with a conference titled “Peace: new challenges.

Gariguez was to make a presentation on the experience of the Church in the Philippines, particularly the Mindoro campaign.

Rivera said the support of Church officials and laity gave them hope “amidst the despair of a protracted dispute.”

“Our only appeal is to restore justice to the working people. Unfortunately, the talks have not yet led to a settlement that is fair and just to the workers,” he said.

In Malacañang, meanwhile, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the case is now with the Supreme Court.

On the other hand, Gariguez narrated his personal encounter with the Pope during an audience on October 3.

“When I came face to face with him, I greeted the Holy Father by saying that he is very much loved in the Philippines, and a labor group who had been on strike for two years wants to send him a letter. And the Pope just said: ‘Thank you!’ And I cannot forget his warm and gentle smile,” Gariguez said.

“The good news is I was able to successfully deliver the letter to the Pope,” he added.  (MNS)

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