ME-SHURN CORPORATION v. ME-SHURN WORKERS UNION448 SCRA 41PANGANIBAN;

Posted: May 1, 2015 in case digests, labor relations
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ME-SHURN CORPORATION v. ME-SHURN WORKERS UNION448 SCRA 41PANGANIBAN;

January 11,2005

By:  Aurea I. Gruyal

 

FACTS:

The regular rank and file employees of Me-Shurn Corporation organized Me-Shurn Workers Union-FSM, an affiliate of the February Six Movement (FSM).

Respondent union had a pending application for registration with the BLR.Ten days later, petitioner corporation started placing on forced leave all the rank and file employees who were members of the union‘s bargaining unit.

Respondent union filed a Petition for Certification Election with the Med-Arbitration Unit of the DOLE. The corporation filed a comment stating that it would temporarily lay off employees and cease operations, on account of its alleged inability to meet the export quota required by the Board of Investment.

While the Petition was pending, 184 union members allegedly submitted are traction/withdrawal thereof. The med-arbiter dismissed the Petition. DOL Undersecretary granted the union‘s appeal and ordered the holding of a certification election among the rank and file employees of the corporation.

Respondent union filed a Notice of Strike against petitioner corporation onthe ground of unfair labor practice (illegal lockout and union busting). – Chou Fang Kuen (alias Sammy Chou, the other petitioner herein) and Raquel Lamayra (the Filipino administrative manager of the corporation) imposed a precondition for the resumption of operation and the rehiring of laid off workers. He allegedly required the remaining union officers to sign an Agreement containing a guarantee that upon their return to work, no union or labor organization would be organized. Instead, the union officers were to serve as mediators between labor and management.

The union reorganized and elected a new set of officers. Respondent Rosalina Cruz was elected president. Thereafter, it filed two Complaints charging petitioner corporation with unfair labor practice, illegal dismissal, underpayment of wages and deficiency in separation pay, for which they prayed for damages and attorney‘s fees.

The corporation countered that because of economic reversals, it was compelled to close and cease its operations to prevent serious business losses; that under Article 283 of the Labor Code, it had the right to do so; that in August 1998, it had paid its 342 laid off employees separation pay and benefits in the total amount of P1,682,863.88; and that by virtue of these payments, the cases had already become moot and academic. It also averred that its resumption of operations in September 1998 had been announced and posted at the Bataan Export Processing Zone, and that some of the former employees had reapplied.

ISSUE:

  1. WON the dismissal of the employees of petitioner Me-shurn Corporation is for an authorized cause.
  1. WON the respondents can maintain a suit against petitioners.

HELD:

1.NO.

The reason invoked by petitioners to justify the cessation of corporate operations was alleged business losses.

Yet, other than generally referring to the financial crisis in 1998 and to their supposed difficulty in obtaining an export quota, interestingly, they never presented any report on the financial operations of the corporation during the period before its shutdown. Neither did they submit any credible evidence to substantiate their allegation of business losses. – Basic is the rule in termination cases that the employer bears the burden of showing that the dismissal was for a just or authorized cause. Otherwise, the dismissal is deemed unjustified.

Apropos this responsibility, petitioner corporation should have presented clear and convincing evidence of imminent economic or business reversals as a form of affirmative defense in the proceedings before the labor arbiter, under justifiable circumstances, even on appeal with the NLRC.

  1. YES.

The DOLE would not have entertained the Petition if the union were not a legitimate labor organization within the meaning of the Labor Code. Under this Code, in an unorganized establishment, only a legitimate union may file a petition for certification election.

Hence, while it is not clear from the record whether respondent union is legitimate organization, we are not readily inclined to believe otherwise especially in the light of the pro-labor policies enshrined in the Constitution and the Labor Code.

Verily, the union has the requisite personality to sue in its own name in order to challenge the unfair labor practice committed by petitioners against it and its members.

It would be an unwarranted impairment of the right to self-organization through formation of labor associations if thereafter such collective entities would be barred from instituting action in their representative capacity.

Finally, in view of the discriminatory acts committed by petitioners against respondent union prior to the holding of the certification election– acts that included their immediate grant of exclusive recognition to another union as a bargaining agent despite the pending Petition for certification election –the results of that election cannot be said to constitute a repudiation by the affected employees of the union‘s right to represent them in the present case.

LABREL CASE DIGEST POOL / ATTORNEY JHONELLE ESTRADA / MONDAYS / 5:30 PM TO 8:30 PM / NEW ERA UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF LAW

DISPOSITION:

WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED, and the assailed Decision AFFIRMED

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