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Dangerous skies

We are not talking here of US war-planes clashing with Chinese jet fighters over the South China Sea. What the world saw in the month of April was how dangerous it has become for airline passengers.

First  we were witness to how United Airlines staff and security personnel dragged a passenger along the aisle. This was by far contradiction of the airline’s slogan of “The friendly skies of United.” The manhandled passenger was supposedly picked at random because the airline had overbooked and wanted to make room for United staff attending a conference. Was it really at random or because he was Asian and fitted the stereotype of one who won’t resist?

It turned out the passenger of Vietnamese descent was a doctor and he did resist. Dr. David Dao was dragged bloodied along the aisle as other passengers took pictures that went viral and a public relations nightmare for United Airlines. The doctor did not want to be offloaded because he had to see patients in Louisville, Kentucky. He boarded in Chicago with his wife hoping he would have a pleasant short flight.

United has since settled the case with Dr.  David Dao for an undisclosed amount plus probably a round the world first class ticket for him and his family. But the  April 9 incident that United wanted to downplay has been very costly in terms of passenger revenue losses.

This is what happens when airlines treat passengers like cattle. Take the other case of American Airlines whose cabin staff struck a mother of two on the head with a folded baby stroller. A male passenger tried to defend the victim but the burly flight attendant dared the man to “bring it on.”

Knowing it is a serious federal offense to lay a hand on an airline staffer or cabin crew member, the man backed off.  But in this day of cellphone cameras, the whole incident was recorded by other passengers. It went viral on social media.

What is it with airline crew and attendants these days? If they can’t stand the pressure of being glorified as mere servants of paying passengers, then they should look for another job. A career change might be the answer to pressure build- up of having to pander to some demanding passengers.  

May Day

Today is Labor Day and workers  are sanguine they will get a May 1 gift package from President Rodrigo Duterte. Campaigning on the theme of working for workers, Digong won a lot of votes from this sector as he harped on ending the onerous “endo” policy of big business establishments. “Endo,” is the latest in the local lexicon, It pertains to the ploy of employers to end the contract of of employees before the six-month probationary period. Because they hire these “probies” from recruitment agencies the companies’ relationship is with them and not the workers. This saves them the grief arising from workers forming or joining a labor union.The policy also spares the companies from paying Social Security, Philhealth, 13th month pay, separation pay and other workmen’s compensation benefits.

Mr. Duterte is supposed to address a large group of workers in his hometown of Davao. Will he unwrap a basketful of goodies that include the end of contractualization and a higher daily wage? Labor is demanding a P750 daily wage increase, up from P450 for workers in Metro Manila.

Families are separated because of the lack of work here. Fathers, mothers and young adults brave unfriendly and harsh work conditions in the Middle East to send dependents to school , Basically it’s to put food on the table and clothes on their backs.

The latest Social Weather Stations survey showed a 50-percent increase of Filipinos who consider themselves poor and hungry The number of poor people is now 11.5 million  in a country where only one percent control the economy. Yet we have at least 10 Filipino entrepreneurs, most of them Tsinoy taipans who are in Forbes Magazine’s list of richest people on the planet.

The rich live in opulent houses in gated communities while the poor have forcibly taken over the National Housing Authority  projects  like the one seized by the informal settlers of Kadamay in Pandi, Bulacan. It would be quite a social upheaval if the homeless occupy Hacienda  Luisita in Tarlac of the Cojuangco-Aquino clan. 

Instead of shutting down the Lopez-owned ABS-CBN television network by not renewing its franchise  contract, perhaps President Duterte would earn more supporters if he takes over Hacienda Luisita and distributes the land to the farmer beneficiaries as intended by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

Topics: Alejandro del Rosario , Dangerous skies , United Airlines , airline passengers , Labor Day
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