Myla Ruth N.

Sara

Maraguinot v. NLRC FACTS: Petitioner maintains that he was employed by respondents as part of the filming crew. He was later promoted as an electrician. Petitioners’ tasks contained of loading movie equipment in the shoothing area. Petitioners sought the assistance of their supervisor, Cesario, to facilitate their request that respondents adjust their salary in accordance with the minimum wage law. Mrs. Cesario informed petitioners that del Rosario would agree to increase their salary only if they signed a blank employment contract. As petitioner refused to sign, respondents forced Enero (the other petitioner who worked as a crew member) to go on leave. However, when he reported to work, respondent refused to take him back. Maraguinot was dropped from the company payroll but when he returned, he was again asked to sign a blank employment contract, and when he still refused, respondent’s terminated his services. Petitioners thus sued for illegal dismissal. Private respondents assert that they contract persons called producers to produce or make movies for private respondents and contend that petitioners are project employees of the associate producers, who act as independent contractors. Thus, there is no ER-EE relationship. However, petitioners cited that their performance of activities is necessary in the usual trade or business of respondents and their work in continuous. ISSUE: W/N ER-EE relationship exists HELD: Yes. With regards to VIVA’s contention that it does not make movies but merely distributes motion pictures, there is no sufficient proof to prove this contention. In respect to respondents’ allegation that petitioners are project employees, it is a settled rule that the contracting out of labor is allowed only in case of job contracting. However, assuming that the associate producers are job contactors, they must then be engaged in the business of making motion pictures. Associate producers must have tools necessary to make motion pictures. However, the associate producers in this case have none of these. The movie-making equipment are supplied to the producers and owned by VIVA. Thus, it is clear that the associate producer merely leases the equipment from VIVA. In addition, the associate producers of VIVA cannot be considered labor-only contractors as they did not supply, recruit nor hire the workers. It was Cesario, the Shooting Supervisor of VIVA, who recruited crew members. Thus, the relationship between VIVA and its producers or associate producers seems to be that of agency. With regards to the issue of illegal dismissal, petitioners assert that they were regular employees who were illegally dismissed. Petitioners in this case had already attained the status of regular employees in view of VIVA’s conduct. Thus, petitioners are entitled to back wages. A project employee or a member of a work pool may acquire the status of a regular employee when: a. there is a continuous rehiring of project employees even after a cessation of project b. the tasks performed by the alleged project employee are vital and necessary to the business of employer The tasks of petitioners in loading movie equipment and returning it to VIVA’s warehouse and fixing the lighting system were vital, necessary and indispensable to the usual business or trade of the employer. Wherefore, petition is granted.

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