Age is not just a number

Posted by Admin | Posted in Employee Rights and Benefits, Employment, Labor Law, Thoughts | Posted on 02-10-2010

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For Gretchen Barreto, “40 is just a number”. But for PAL’s cabin crew, 40 is a crucial point of their lives, because when they reach this age, they will have to find another job and say goodbye to PAL. Under the existing CBA, male and female flight attendants who were hired from November 2000 will be retired at the age of 40. Recently, flight attendants have expressed resentment over this provision and attempted to negotiate with the PAL management, through their bargaining agent – the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP). However, negotiations failed and the employees have already filed a notice of strike last August 9, 2010. Attempts at conciliation and mediation having failed, the employees are expected to hold their strike sometime during the first week of November after the requisite strike vote has been conducted and the DOLE is notified of the vote results.  Asia’s pioneer airlines could be facing a major setback in its operations during the later part of this year, if the intended strike pushes through.

Earlier in 2004, some female flight attendants of PAL filed a special civil action for declaratory relief before the Makati RTC, assailing the constitutionality and legality of the CBA provision which provides that the retirement age for flight attendants who were hired before 1996 is 55 for females and 60 for males. The female attendants alleged that this was gender-discriminatory. As of this date, I am not aware of any recent decision on this case.  If this case is decided against PAL, this will be another problem for its management.

Age is, indeed, not just a number.  From it springs controversies that affect people’s livelihood.  It may even affect the operation of important public services such as air transportation.