PAL’s policy: A Violation of Magna Carta of Women
Discrimination! Cry the flight attendants and stewards of the Philippine Airlines when the company has decided to lessen the retirement age and benefits for women flight attendants especially those hired after 1998. Instead of the compulsory retirement age of 55 years old for female flight attendants and 60 to male flight attendants, it will be adjusted to 40 for both male and female.
As a result, the Flight Attendants' & Stewards' Association of the Philippines (FASAP), union of flight attendants and stewards in Philippine Airlines (PAL), poised to strike over age and gender discrimination. They are also pushing for the much-delayed Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). This would be the first time that FASAP, which represents 1,600 in-flight safety professionals, would launch a strike since its foundation on 1960 according to Andy Ortega, FASAP Vice President.
According to the Center for Women’s Resources (CWR), a research and training institute for women, such policy is a violation of the newly passed Magna Carta of Women, which upholds gender equality in the workplace, ensuring “decent work standards for women that involve the creation of jobs of acceptable quality in conditions of freedom, equity, security, and human dignity”. The women members of FASAP can use the Magna Carta of Women to push through with their fight against job insecurity and gender and age discrimination.
The primary reason of FASAP’s plan to strike is the age and gender discrimination among flight attendants in PAL. According to FASAP’s statement, “(t)hrough this policy, PAL is able to exploit the attractiveness and charm of younger flight attendants as sex objects, especially female flight attendants who make up two thirds of the entire population of PAL cabin attendants.” For FASAP the equalization of the retirement age of male and female attendants at 40 “does not at all remove the discrimination… (it) only covers the discrimination and does not provide a solution and poses more problems.”
“No Motherhood Policy”
The pregnancy and maternity policies for flight attendants in PAL are also punitive and discriminatory. The FASAP explained that “PAL flight attendants who get pregnant are placed on pregnancy leave without pay, starting on the third month, until she gives birth.”
Aside from leave without pay, other benefits are likewise suspended such as productivity allowance, monthly rice subsidy, travel benefits, among others. Even her Christmas bonus and 13th month pay will be affected.
According to the FASAP’s statement, before the flight attendant could return to flying status, she must first meet PAL’s “grooming standards.” After giving birth she has to be “pretty or sexy enough in the eyes of PAL management” that in effect it discourages flight attendants from getting pregnant, added the statement. On the other hand, "the attendance record of the male flight attendants who go on paternity leave is not affected”, disclosed the statement.
Wage Increase and Delayed CBA
Further, PAL’s inaction on the CBA has prompted FASAP members to submit a notice for strike. The members believe that the three years of waiting and “bending over-backwards” has given PAL more than enough time. The CBA between PAL management and FASAP expired in July 2007 and to date, the salary of the flight attendants and stewards did not increase. FASAP stated that the union “has taken pains as it patiently accommodated management’s several requests for understanding. But despite numerous promises to submit its economic proposals during the Preventive Mediation hearings before the Department of Labor, PAL has failed or refused to do so.”
CWR’s executive director Jojo Guan observes that the company’s slogan, “With us, you’re always number one” seems not applicable to its own flight attendants and stewards. “Worse, it even violates the Magna Carta that supposedly protects the welfare of women,” she adds.### (2010, August 27)