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Toronto IWW in solidarity with Philipino airline workers

Philippine Airlines (PAL) is a profitable airline owned by a billionaire who has fired the airline’s entire airport ground staff represented by PALEA and are replacing them with non-unionised contract workers for a third of their salary, working six 8 hour shifts a week. The Toronto IWW was among other groups to attend a solidarity assembly action Saturday December 10th, 2011 at Toronto’s Pearson airport to help end this mistreatment of workers.

The community-worker assembly was a great success. There were about 40 community members (from Migrante, OCAP, Industrial Workers of the World, and Greater Toronto Workers’ Assembly) attend, as well as another 40-50 unionists (from the three airport unions: CAW 2002, CUPE 4094, and IAMAW 2323). Even more workers were trapped inside the airport terminal, since Air Canada management intimated them into not going outside: by saying they were “on shift” during their break and could be disciplined for going outside to the assembly. These workers wanted to go to the assembly, and many said that they want to take part in future assemblies and actions.

Five motions were passed at the assembly:

  1. We hold assemblies (and/or actions) at the Pearson airport every year on Human Rights Day (Dec. 10th). Also, that we attempt to hold similar projects at as many airports in Canada as possible.
  2. We put the issues of migrant workers and airport workers on the agenda of International Women’s Day. That we use this new network to increase the focus on the issues that women workers (specifically women migrant workers) face in their daily lives.
  3. We hold more demonstrations for the workers of PALEA at the Philippine Consulate, in Toronto, during the beginning of 2012.
  4. We develop a strategy to put economic pressure on PAL and their big corporate friends. That we need to not appeal to the morality of PAL but instead hurt them in their pocket book. We should bring this to our community groups and unions in order to have more strategic meetings about tactics and actions, soon.
  5. We march through the Terminal. We, all, make the commitment to come back to airport to march through the terminal during the strike/lock out/ negotiations of IAMAW 2323 (or any other airport union) during the new-year.

Here are some of the first pictures to appear online.

Lastly, below are two letters that we have received from PALEA so far.

To Sean Smith & other brothers and sisters in Canada,

It is great to hear of the success of the solidarity action in the Toronto airport. Awesome way to commemorate Human Rights Day.

We will be forwarding the news and photos to the PALEA officers, members and families in the picketlines. It’s been raining hard in Manila in the last few days so this will raise the morale in the protest camp. And as a Filipino while shivering here in Chicago, I do realize how much colder it must be is picketing in the streets in Toronto. Thanks for the sacrifice, thanks for the solidarity!

Benjie Velasco

Partido ng Manggagawa

On behalf of the officers and members of PALEA, I thank all who participated in the general assembly in the Toronto airport. Judging from your report, it is the biggest solidarity action yet that PALEA has received. I will immediately inform my fellow officers and members and we will show the pictures and videos at the picketlines once you have sent them. We hope to count on your continued support until we win the fight against outsourcing and contractualization at Philippine Airlines.

Gerry Rivera

PALEA President

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