Union Renewal and the Outsourcing Dispute at Philippine Airlines

  • Bejamin B. Velasco SOLAIR UP Diliman


The study examined the experience of the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) using the lens of union renewal as it engaged in a struggle against contractualization at Philippine Airlines (PAL). The study used participant observation, in-depth interviews and analysis of documents. The PAL-PALEA dispute was the biggest labor row in recent history. PALEA saw outsourcing not just as a scheme to replace regular with contractual workers but also as a ploy to suspend collective bargaining negotiations and bust the union. PALEA’s stand was that outsourcing and the state’s lax policy on contractualization will lead to the degradation of working conditions of all Filipino workers; thus, the strategic choice to resist and the logic of transformation in the process of union renewal. From a passive and co-opted union retreating in the face of management attacks, PALEA  transformed into a fighting organization strengthened by mass participation. The external threat of outsourcing molded the contours and tempo of the internal changes undergone by PALEA. PALEA implemented its struggle along the lines of social movement unionism to encompass the labor movement and civil society. The resolute fight and the solidarity movement exerted enough leverage to impact on the behavior of the industrial relations (IR) parties involved, specifically PAL which signed a settlement agreement and the government which enacted new rules on contractualization.

Author Biography

Bejamin B. Velasco, SOLAIR UP Diliman

Has been active in the labor and social movements for three decades in various capacities. At present, he is involved in Partido Manggagawa. He just started as a senior lecturer at UP SOLAIR while taking up a doctoral degree at UP CSWCD.