5:03 am | Tuesday, October 1st, 2013
MANILA, Philippines—Apparently inspired by Pope Francis’ call for decent work and social justice, workers laid off by Philippine Airlines (PAL) has sought papal intervention in the labor dispute and in their campaign to be reinstated in their jobs.
In a one-page letter to Pope Francis, Gerardo Rivera, president of the PAL Employees Association (Palea), brought to the Holy Father’s attention the plight of the airline workers who were laid off in 2011 as a result of the flag carrier’s decision to implement an outsourcing scheme.
“As the only majority Christian nation in Asia, we deem an appeal from Your Holiness to the stakeholders involved—our employer [PAL] and the government—will (persuade them to) exercise moral suasion (that) may prove decisive in a settlement fair to the workers,” wrote Rivera.
“We were fired with the intention of being rehired as contract workers doing the same jobs without security of tenure, lower wages, longer hours of work but without benefits,” he said.
Such a scheme, the union official said, was “in contravention” of the social teachings of the Catholic Church, which has been advocating the primacy of labor over capital.
Rivera said the union members were inspired and overjoyed after hearing the Holy Father call for decent work and social justice on World Labor Day five months ago.
In his remarks on the occasion, Pope Francis encouraged governments and those in public service to make an effort to give “new impetus” to employment by giving importance to the dignity of workers.
“The teachings of the Church and the ideas of Your Holiness give us the strength to carry on our advocacy to be reinstated to our regular jobs,” Rivera said in his letter.
He said that Palea’s campaign had drawn support from Church leaders in the Philippines, including former Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, incumbent Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle and Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo.—Jocelyn R. Uy
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