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Case Digests Labor

Case Digests Labor

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Published by: MD Arthur on Aug 04, 2013
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Caurdanetaan Piece Workers Union vs. Laguesma & Corfarm GrainsG.R No. 113542, February 24, 1998
Facts:Caurdanetaan Piece Workers Union members (petitioners) worked as cargadores forCorfarms Grains,Inc. (private respondent). They loaded, unloaded and piled sacks of palay from thewarehouses to the cargo trucks and from the cargo trucks to the buyers. They were paid by privaterespondent on a piece rate basis. When Corfarm denied some benefits to these cargadores, theyorganized a union. Upon learning of its formation, Corfarm barred its members from working withthem and replaced them with non-members of the union.Petitioner filed [a petition] for certification election before the Department of Labor andEmployment and also filed a complaint for illegal dismissal.Corfarm denies that it had the power of control, rationalizing that petitioner's members"were 'street-hired' workers engaged from time to time to do loading and unloading work .Therewas no superintendent-in-charge to give orders and there were no gate passes issued, nor tools,equipment and paraphernalia issued by Corfarm for loading/unloading. Furthermore theycontended that employer-employee relationship is negated by the fact that they offer and actuallyperform loading and unloading work for various rice mills in Pangasinan .Labor Arbiter Rolando D. Gambito issued his decision finding the dismissal of petitioner'smembers illegal. Public Respondent Laguesma premised the dismissal of the petition forcertification election on the absence of an employer-employee relationship between petitioner'smembers and private respondent ISSUE:The present controversy hinges on whether or not an employer-employee relationshipbetween the CPWU members and Respondent Corfarm exist.HELD.Yes there is employer-emploee relationship. To determine the existence of an employer-employee relation, this Court has consistently applied the "four-fold" test which has the followingelements: (1) the power to hire, (2) the payment of wages, (3) the power to dismiss, and (4) thepower to control - the last being the most important element.Caurdanetaan Piece Workers Union members (petitioners) performed work which isdirectly related, necessary and vital to the operations of Corfarm. Moreover, Corfarm did not evenallege, much less prove, that petitioner's members have "substantial capital or investment in theform of tools, equipment, machineries, [and] work premises, among others. To be considered asindependent contractors. Furthermore, said respondent did not contradict petitioner's allegationthat it paid wages directly to these workers without the intervention of any third-partyindependent contractor. It also wielded the power of dismissal over petitioners; in fact, its exerciseof this power was the progenitor of the illegal dismissal case. Clearly, the workers are not independent contractors. Assuming arguendo that they did work with other rice mills, this wasrequired by the imperative of meeting their basic needs.
Facts:Petitioner Alejandro Maraguinot, Jr. maintains that he was employed by privaterespondents filming crew and was was promoted to the rank of Electrician. Petitioner PaulinoEnero, on his part, claims that private respondents employed him as a member of the shooting crew. Petitioners' tasks consisted of loading, unloading and arranging movie equipment in the shootingarea as instructed by the cameraman, returning the equipment to Viva Films' warehouse, assistingin the "fixing" of the lighting system, and performing other tasks that the cameraman and/ordirector may assign.Petitioners sought the assistance of their supervisor, Mrs. Alejandria Cesario, to facilitatetheir request that private respondents adjust their salary in accordance with the minimum wagelaw. Mrs. Cesario informed petitioners that Mr. Vic del Rosario would agree to increase their salaryonly if they signed a blank employment contract. As petitioners refused to sign, private respondentsforced Enero to go on leave, then refused to take him back when he reported for work. Meanwhile,Maraguinot was again asked to sign a blank employment contract, and when he still refused, privaterespondents terminated his services. Petitioners thus sued for illegal dismissal before the LaborArbiter.On the other hand, private respondents claim that Viva Films (hereafter VIVA) that it isprimarily engaged in the distribution and exhibition of movies - but not in the business of makingmovies; in the same vein, private respondent Vic del Rosario is merely an executive producer, i.e.,the financier who invests a certain sum of money for the production of movies distributed andexhibited by VIVA.Private respondents assert that they contract persons called "producers" - also referred toas "associate producers" to "produce" or make movies for private respondents; and contend that petitioners are project employees of the associate producers who, in turn, act as independent contractors. As such, there is no employer-employee relationship between petitioners and privaterespondents.After considering both versions of the facts, the Labor Arbiter ruled in favor of thecomplainants. Respondents were ordered to reinstate complainants to their formerpositions.Private respondents appealed to the NLRC . The NLRC, in reversing the Labor Arbiter,then concluded that these circumstances, taken together, indicated that complainants (hereinpetitioners) were "project employees."Issue:The determination of whether an employer-employee relationship existed betweenpetitioners and private respondents or any one of private respondents.Held:All the circumstances indicate an employment relationship between petitioners and VIVAalone, thus the inevitable conclusion is that petitioners are employees only of VIVA. In respect to
the respondent’s allegation that the petitioners are project employees, it is a settled rule that 
contracting out of labor is allowed only in case of job contracting. In the case at bar, the associate
producers cannot be considered as job contractors but only agents because they are not engaged inthe business of making motion pictures. The movie making equipment are supplied to theproducers and owned by VIVA. In addition, the associate producers cannot be considered as laboronly contractors as they did not supply, recruit nor hire workers.It may not be ignored, however, that private respondents expressly admitted that petitioners were part of a work pool; 31 and, while petitioners were initially hired possibly asproject employees, they had attained the status of regular employees in view of VIVA's conduct.A project employee or a member of a work pool may acquire the status of a regularemployee when the following concur:1) There is a continuous rehiring of project employees even after cessation of a project; 32 and2) The tasks performed by the alleged "project employee" are vital, necessary and indispensable tothe usual business or trade of the employer. 33

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