As I am sure you realize, lately, I have started writing a bit of a series regarding tourism in the Philippines. Because of this, I have been keeping a closer eye than normal when it comes to information about tourism when it appears on the news or other TV programs, in the newspaper, or wherever. Because of that, last week, Feyma and I were watching the news on ANC (ABS-CBN News Channel), but we were also talking, with the news in the background. Suddenly, a news story came on about Philippine Airlines (PAL), and I interrupted Feyma and told her I wanted to hear this story.
As the story got started, they were talking about the potential for a strike among PAL’s employees. As I wrote some time back, there have been labor issues with PAL Pilots in recent months, but now it is the Flight Attendants who are threatening to go on strike. There are a number of issues that the Flight Attendants are pushing PAL to negotiate with them. Two of the most contentious issues are Gender Discrimination issues and Age Discrimination issues. Currently, Flight Attendants are not offered paid maternity leave, which they are bargaining for. The Age issue comes down to the fact that under current PAL policy, female flight attendants must retire by age 40. Wow! Image that, age 40 mandatory retirement? That’s quite young to be forced to retire. I admit, I like seeing the pretty flight attendants when I fly PAL, but I also don’t think that they should be forced into retirement at age 40.
When I saw the story on the news about the pending strike, one thing caught my ear, though! Frankly, it shocked me. We all know that wages in the Philippines are quite low, but I was surprised when I learned what a flight attendant makes. My only source of this information is from what was said on ANC, though, but they said that PAL flight attendants are currently being paid P8,600 per month. That is roughly about $200 per month in today’s US Dollar – Peso rate. $200 per month? Wow. If this information which ANC clearly said (Feyma and I looked at each other and said “did you hear that?”), then I was way off, because I would have thought that a flight attendant would be making at least $1,000 per month here in the Philippines – about P40,000 to P45,000.
Anyway, the Government is threatening to step in and stop the strike, and force the parties to negotiate on this. I don’t know how effective they can be, though. I mean, if PAL doesn’t want to give in on these issues, can they be forced? The Government does have some harsh repercussions for PAL, though, if they don’t settle the issue. The Government is threatening to institute an Open Skies policy and allow foreign airlines to fly into routes that PAL holds. That could be a killer for PAL, if it happens, because right now, for the most part, foreign airlines are not allowed to fly domestic routes at all. Opening things up for competition could really hurt PAL badly… although, in my opinion it would be a boon for tourism in the Philippines, and for the flying public.
What do you think? Will the strike happen? Will the Government open the skies to foreign operators? Will the Flight Attendants get what they want from PAL? It is hard to know yet, but things should start unfolding over the next few weeks.