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Philippine Airlines files suit against its former pilots union

Search ASIA Travel Tips .com 23 April 2003

Philippine Airlines has filed suit against its former pilots union seeking compensation for over P1.034 billion in actual and exemplary damages the latter caused PAL during an illegal 22-day strike in 1998.

In a complaint lodged at the National Labor Relations Commission, the flag carrier accused the Airline Pilots Association of the Philippines (ALPAP) of acting "with bad faith, malice and deliberate intent" to wreck PAL during the labor dispute.

The work stoppage, which occurred from June 5 to 26, 1998 during the peak summer travel period, stranded hundreds of passengers at foreign airports and paralyzed PAL's operations.

It also affected the celebration of the country's independence centenary on June 12, 1998 when many invited foreign dignitaries and guests were unable to come.

The strike, which hastened the airline's closure, was subsequently declared illegal by the Department of Labor and Employment - a ruling upheld by the Court of Appeals and with finality by the Supreme Court.

PAL asked for over P731 million in actual damages, consisting of P71.4 million in ticket refunds, P214.1 million in endorsements to other airlines, and P426.8 million in lost income from cancelled flights. The flag carrier also sought P300 million in exemplary damages.

Commenting on the filing of the complaint, PAL president Avelino L. Zapanta said: "The record shows that ALPAP's actions during the dispute were intended to destroy PAL and wreak havoc on an industry indispensable to the national interest. However long it takes, justice must be served."

The strike stemmed from a dispute on the retirement of a union member, Capt. Albino Collantes, whom PAL management retired based on a provision of the PAL-ALPAP Retirement Plan, which is part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the two parties.

The strike severely crippled PAL's operations, helped push the flag carrier to bankruptcy and led to a two-week shutdown in September 1998. PAL has since resumed operations, but on a drastically reduced scale. It is still in receivership.

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