De Botton on what makes a job meaningful

(Only Motherless Brooklyn remains partially unread in the set of books photographed here. I read excerpts of Motherless Brooklyn in a Paris Review issue sometime ago.)

(Only Motherless Brooklyn remains partially unread in the set of books photographed here. I read excerpts of Motherless Brooklyn in a Paris Review issue sometime ago.)

When does a job feel meaningful? 
Whenever it allows us to generate delight or reduce suffering in others. Though we are often taught to think of ourselves as inherently selfish, the longing to act meaningfully in our work seems just as stubborn a part of our make-up as our appetite for status or money. 
It is because we are meaning-focused animals rather than simply materialistic ones that we can reasonably contemplate surrendering security for a career helping to bring drinking water to rural Malawi or might quit a job in consumer goods for one in cardiac nursing, aware that when it comes to improving the human condition, a well-controlled defiibrillator has the edge over even the finest biscuit. 
But we should wary of restricting the idea of meaningful work too tightly, of focusing only on the doctors, the nuns of Kolkata or the Old Masters. 
There can be less exalted ways to contribute to the furtherance of the collective good and it seems that making a perfectly formed stripey chocolate circle which helps to fill an impatient stomach in the long hours between nine o’ clock and noon may deserve its own secure, if microscopic place in the pantheon of innovations designed to alleviate the burdens of existence. 


— From The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work by Alain de Botton

From the Word Power Made Easy Dept. This same book helped me find a synonym for—of all words— electricity tower, which the British also call pylons. Check out An electricity tower by any other name.

Philippine Airlines’ labor agreement on outsourcing


“The Company undertakes not to contract out existing positions, jobs, divisions, and departments presently occupied by present or future regular employees within the collective bargaining unit. All existing programs whereby positions, jobs, divisions, and departments presently occupied by regular employees are being contracted out temporarily arising from exigencies of operations, shall immediately be deemed discontinued when the said exigencies or needs cease. Thereafter, where these programs have resulted in transfers and/or other adverse implications on security of tenure, all affected employees shall be immediately restored to their status and position prior to said contracting out, without any loss of seniority or diminution of benefits.

In case the Company deems it necessary to reorganize its corporate structure for the viability of its operations by forming joint ventures and spin-offs, the Company shall do so only after proper consultations with PALEA [Philippine Airlines’ Employees Association] not less than forty-five (45) days before the implementation of said reorganization for the protection of the Union and those affected employees.”

— From Article 24, Section 4 of the 1995-2000 labor agreement between Philippine Airlines (PAL) and the PALEA. Arguably, the agreement remains in effect after both parties agreed to extend it in 1998. During that time, the company sought — and later secured — court approval to temporarily suspend debt payments to creditors. In October, the Philippines’ Department of Labor and Employment affirmed an earlier decision dated June, allowing the outsourcing of 4,000 jobs in the airlines’ inflight catering, airport services, and reservations staff. The June 2010 decision was made after workers appealed a much earlier verdict rendered in March that also ruled against their favor. Earlier, workers filed a case against PAL, disputing its plans to contract out its labor needs. The case also sought to renew the labor agreement that had already lapsed. [See: Labor Dept. allows layoff of PAL workers]

2 professors to sue business school

AIM logo

TWO professors from the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) are expected to file a complaint against school officials after both were suspended for demanding salary hikes for employees worth nearly a billion pesos.
Emmanuel A. Leyco, who specializes in public finance, told BusinessMirror that he, together with fellow professor and Harvard Business School graduate Victor Limlingan will file a complaint Friday at the Department of Labor and Employment, claiming that both of them were victims of “illegal suspension,” arising from an order issued July 9, 2007 by AIM President Francis Estrada.
In a text message sent to BusinessMirror, Leyco said that the case, which will be filed against the school’s Board of Trustees and its President, will demand “compensatory, moral, and punitive damages,” owing to their suspension which will end July 8, 2008. Leyco failed to indicate an amount for the said damages.
Leyco and Limlingan, President and Chairman, respectively of the Asian Institute of Management Faculty Association (AFA), were suspended after both submitted a letter to the school’s board of trustees last February, demanding additional compensation.
The letter asserted that a law—Republic Act 6728—entitled AIM’s 40-strong faculty members and 100 or so employees to receive 70 percent of the school’s tuition fee increases.
According to its calculations, the AFA document said that AIM employees should receive some P985 million. The said law, enacted in 1989, amended Presidential Decree 451, issued in 1974, increasing employees’ share from 60 percent.
For its part, an AIM statement faxed to BusinessMirror said that the claim had “no substantiation whatsoever.”
“The distribution of the faculty share was effectively restored in February 2007,” the same statement said, adding that the institute “has accordingly not violated PD 451 and RA 6728.” The statement failed to elaborate.
Moreover, the AIM statement said that the AFA letter was submitted during AIM’s Leadership Week, a special event regularly attended by the school’s trustees and board of governors, which allegedly led the school’s stakeholders to express deep concern over the issue.
This, in turn, caused Estrada to suspend Leyco and Limlingan, citing “dysfunctional behavior.”
In a faxed statement sent by AIM to BusinessMirror, the two foreign-educated professors were suspended because “management received several letters of concern from various stakeholders who believe that the large unsubstantiated claim in the AFA letter and the timing of its release and the manner of its distribution show that the letter was intended to embarrass or damage the institute rather than raise a legitimate claim.”
For his part, Leyco said that the suspension orders against them were implemented without due process, forcing them to seek temporary relief from the National Labor Relations Commission. The relief was not granted.
The document which sought a temporary restraining order from the NLRC said that the suspension order “should have been undertaken by a committee convened by the Institute’s Dean.”
“Francis Estrada has exercised arbitratriness in managing the school,” Leyco told BusinessMirror in a separate interview Wednesday night. “There has been no consultation, no due process and he comes up with unilateral decisions that hurt individuals.”
Moreover, Leyco on Thursday said that a separate order issued by Estrada barred him from entering the school and using the facilities. In a separate text message, Leyco claimed that “[Estrada] did not want the graduate students ‘distracted’ from their studies.”

From the Oversight Department. Although this piece was published Friday, September 14, 2007 at BusinessMirror, the paper I work for, it contains a few errors, all of which are mine. First, I failed to mention that tuition of AIM, Asia’s first business school, is based on the US dollar to give readers a perspective vis-a-vis the billion peso salary claim. Second, I also failed to indicate that I have undertaken all possible attempts to get the side of Francis Estrada, AIM President. Although I was already writing the story as of six-fifteen in the evening of Thursday, September 13, 2007, I was still hoping that Estrada—or any of the school’s representatives—would call me for a phone interview. Instead, what I got was a statement which was faxed as soon as I emailed Estrada—through AIM’s Edythe Bautista—a set of questions. As of this writing, the same questions have yet to be answered. Third, and perhaps more important, Leyco and Limlingan didn’t file their complaint at the Department of Labor and Employment. They filed it at the National Labor Relations Commission, an agency under the DOLE. Previously, the two asked the NLRC to stop AIM from enabling their suspension. Since they were unsuccessful, they converted their earlier case—which was a request for a temporary restraining order—into a case against their illegal suspension.