Gender discrimination at PAL slammed

Senator Pia S. Cayetano today slammed the management of Philippine Airlines (PAL) for employing labor policies that constitute “gender discrimination” against its female flight attendants.

Cayetano, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Youth, Women and Family Relations, said the flag carrier’s policy of imposing younger mandatory retirement age requirements for female flight attendants clearly violates the anti-gender discrimination prohibition of the Labor Code and the newly enacted Magna Carta of Women (RA 9710).

“PAL should respect and follow our labor laws and ensure equal work opportunities for its employees regardless of gender. Being our flag carrier, the management’s treatment of its staff also reflects on our image as Filipinos worldwide. The labor department should see to it that the unjust and discriminatory policies in PAL are scrapped,” she stressed.

Cayetano cited complaints she received from PAL women flight attendants belonging to the Flight Attendants and Stewards of the Philippines (FASAP) about management’s inclusion in its Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) of a provision imposing a younger mandatory retirement age for female flight attendants at 55 years old compared to their male counterparts at 60 years old.

The policy covers some 600 women flight attendants recruited by the airline company before November 22, 1996.

She added that separate CBAs being pushed by PAL management for both male and female flight attendants recruited between years 1996 to 2000, and those recruited in year 2000 and beyond impose even younger mandatory retirement ages at 40 years old and 45 years old, respectively.

In comparison, the retirement age for PAL pilots, whether male or female is 60, while managerial staff and other ground crew are allowed to work until 65, also regardless of gender.

“Such misguided and outmoded policies hinge on the sexist view that flight attendants should be valued more for their youth and physical attributes rather than their professionalism and years of service.”

She said Article 3 of the Labor Code ensures equal work opportunities regardless of sex, while Article 135 declares it unlawful for any employer to discriminate against any woman employee with respect to terms and conditions of employment solely on account of her sex.

She urged the Aquino government to also mediate in the long-running dispute between PAL management and its flight attendants, warning that the situation could escalate into a full-blown protest and further hamper the airline’s operations following the recent resignation of 25 of its pilots.

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