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Work Stoppage as illegal strike

[G.R. Nos. 164302-03. January 24, 2007.]


SANTA ROSA COCA-COLA PLANT EMPLOYEES UNION, Donrico V. Sebastian, Eulogio G. Batino,
Samuel A. Atanque, Manolo C. Zabaljauregui, Dionisio Tenorio, Edwin P. Rellores, Luis B.
Natividad, Myrna Petingco, Feliciano Tolentino, Rodolfo A. Amante, Jr., Cipriano C. Bello, and
Ronaldo T. Espino, Efren Galan, and Jun Carmelito Santos, petitioners, vs. COCA-COLA
BOTTLERS PHILS., INC.,respondent.
DECISION
CALLEJO, SR., J p:
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP Nos.
74174 and 74860, which affirmed the ruling of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) in NLRC CA
No. 030424-02, and the Labor Arbiter in NLRC Case No. RAB-IV-10-11579-99-L.
The Antecedents
The Sta. Rosa Coca-Cola Plant Employees Union (Union) is the sole and exclusive bargaining representative
of the regular daily paid workers and the monthly paid non-commission-earning employees of the CocaCola Bottlers Philippines, Inc. (Company) in its Sta. Rosa, Laguna plant. The individual petitioners are Union
officers, directors, and shop stewards.
The Union and the Company had entered into a three-year Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) effective
July 1, 1996 to expire on June 30, 1999. Upon the expiration of the CBA, the Union informed the Company
of its desire to renegotiate its terms. The CBA meetings commenced on July 26, 1999, where the Union and
the Company discussed the ground rules of the negotiations. The Union insisted that representatives from
the Alyansa ng mga Unyon sa Coca-Cola be allowed to sit down as observers in the CBA meetings. The
Union officers and members also insisted that their wages be based on their work shift rates. For its part,
the Company was of the view that the members of the Alyansa were not members of the bargaining unit.
The Alyansa was a mere aggregate of employees of the Company in its various plants; and is not a
registered labor organization. Thus, animpasse ensued.
On August 30, 1999, the Union, its officers, directors and six shop stewards filed a "Notice of Strike" with
the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) Regional Office in Southern Tagalog, Imus, Cavite.
The petitioners relied on two grounds: (a) deadlock on CBA ground rules; and (b) unfair labor practice
arising from the company's refusal to bargain. The case was docketed as NCMB-RBIV-NS-08-046-99.
The Company filed a Motion to Dismiss alleging that the reasons cited by the Union were not valid grounds
for a strike. The Union then filed an Amended Notice of Strike on September 17, 1999 on the following
grounds: (a) unfair labor practice for the company's refusal to bargain in good faith; and (b) interference
with the exercise of their right to self-organization.
Meanwhile, on September 15, 1999, the Union decided to participate in a mass action organized by
the Alyansa ng mga Unyon sa Coca-Cola in front of the Company's premises set for September 21, 1999.
106 Union members, officers and members of the Board of Directors, and shop stewards, individually filed
applications for leave of absence for September 21, 1999. Certain that its operations in the plant would
come to a complete stop since there were no sufficient trained contractual employees who would take over,
the Company disapproved all leave applications and notified the applicants accordingly. A day before the
mass action, some Union members wore gears, red tag cloths stating "YES KAMI SA STRIKE" as headgears
and on the different parts of their uniform, shoulders and chests.
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The Office of the Mayor issued a permit to the Union, allowing it "to conduct a mass protest action within
the perimeter of the Coca-Cola plant on September 21, 1999 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon." Thus, the
Union officers and members held a picket along the front perimeter of the plant on September 21, 1999. All
of the 14 personnel of the Engineering Section of the Company did not report for work, and 71 production
personnel were also absent. As a result, only one of the three bottling lines operated during the day shift.
All the three lines were operated during the night shift with cumulative downtime of five (5) hours due to
lack of manning, complement and skills requirement. The volume of production for the day was short by
60,000 physical case[s] versus budget.
On October 13, 1999, the Company filed a "Petition to Declare Strike Illegal" alleging, inter alia, the
following: there was a deadlock in the CBA negotiations between the Union and Company, as a result of
which a Notice of Strike was filed by the Union; pending resolution of the Notice of Strike, the Union
members filed applications for leave on September 21, 1999 which were disapproved because operations in
the plant may be disrupted; on September 20, 1999, one day prior to the mass leave, the Union staged a
protest action by wearing red arm bands denouncing the alleged anti-labor practices of the company; on
September 21, 1999, without observing the requirements mandated by law, the Union picketed the
premises of the Company in clear violation of Article 262 of the Labor Code; because of the slowdown in
the work, the Company suffered losses amounting to P2,733,366.29; the mass/protest action conducted on
September 21, 1999 was clearly a strike; since the Union did not observe the requirements mandated by
law, i.e., strike vote, cooling-off period and reporting requirements, the strike was therefore illegal; the
Union also violated the provision of the CBA on the grievance machinery; there being a direct violation of
the CBA, the Union's action constituted an unfair labor practice; and the officers who knowingly participated
in the commission of illegal acts during the strike should be declared to have lost their employment status.
The Company prayed that judgment be rendered as follows:
1. Declaring the strike illegal;
2. Declaring the officers of respondent Union or the individual respondents to have lost their employment
status;
3. Declaring respondent Union, its officers and members guilty of unfair labor practice for violation of the
CBA; and
4. Ordering the respondents to pay petitioner the following claims for damages:
a. Actual Damages in the amount of P4,733,366.29
b. Moral Damages in the amount of Five (5) Million Pesos; and
c. Exemplary Damages in the amount of Two (2) Million Pesos.
The Union filed an Answer with a Motion to Dismiss and/or to Suspend Proceedings alleging therein that
the mass action conducted by its officers and members on September 21, 1999 was not a strike but just a
valid exercise of their right to picket, which is part of the right of free expression as guaranteed by the
Constitution; several thousands of workers nationwide had launched similar mass protest actions to
demonstrate their continuing indignation over the ill effects of martial rule in the Philippines. It pointed out
that even the officers and members of the Alyansa ng mga Unyon sa Coca-Cola had similarly organized
mass protest actions. The Union insisted that officers and members filed their applications for leave for
September 21, 1999 knowing fully well that there were no bottling operations scheduled on September 21
and 22, 1999; they even secured a Mayor's permit for the purpose. The workers, including the petitioners,
merely marched to and fro at the side of the highway near one of the gates of the Sta. Rosa Plant, the
loading bay for public vehicles. After 3 hours, everyone returned to work according to their respective
shifting schedules. The Union averred that the petition filed by the Company was designed to harass and its
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officers and members in order to weaken the Union's position in the on-going collective bargaining
negotiations.
In a letter to the Union President dated October 26, 1999, the NCMB stated that based on their allegations,
the real issue between the parties was not the proper subject of a strike, and should be the subject of
peaceful and reasonable dialogue. The NCMB recommended that the Notice of Strike of the Union be
converted into a preventive mediation case. After conciliation proceedings failed, the parties were required
to submit their respective position papers. In the meantime, the officers and directors of the Union
remained absent without the requisite approved leaves. On October 11, 1999, they were required to submit
their explanations why they should not be declared AWOL.
On November 26, 1999, the Labor Arbiter rendered a Decision granting the petition of the Company. He
declared that the September 21, 1999 mass leave was actually a strike under Article 212 of the Labor Code
for the following reasons: based on the reports submitted by the Production and Engineering Department
of the Company, there was a temporary work stoppage/slowdown in the company; out of the usual three
(3) lines for production for the day shift, only one line operated by probationary employees was functional
and there was a cumulative downtime of five (5) hours attributed to the lack of manning complement and
skills requirement. The Labor Arbiter further declared:
. . . [T]he September 21, 1999 activity of the union and the individual respondents herein fell within the
foregoing definition of a strike. Firstly, the union itself had admitted the fact that on the date in question,
respondent officers, together with their union members and supporters from the Alyansa ng mga Unyon sa
Coca-Cola, did not report for their usual work. Instead, they all assembled in front of the Sta. Rosa Plant
and picketed the premises. Very clearly, there was a concerted action here on the part of the respondents
brought about a temporary stoppage of work at two out of three bottling lines at the Sta. Rosa Plant.
According to Edwin Jaranilla, the Engineering Superintendent (Annex H, petition), all of his department's 14
engineering personnel did not report for work on September 21, 1999, and that only Line 2 operated on the
day shift. Honorio Tacla, the Production Superintendent, testified (Annex H-1), that 71 production
personnel were likewise absent from their respective work stations on September 21, 1999, and that only
Line 2 operated on the day shift. Similarly, Federico Borja, Physical Distribution Superintendent, stated
under oath (Annex H-2) that 12 personnel from his department did not report for work on September 21,
1999, and that no forklift servicing was done on Lines 1 and 3. From the foregoing testimonies, it is evident
that respondents' concerted activity resulted in a temporary stoppage of work at the Sta. Rosa Plant of the
company. Thirdly, such concerted activity by respondents was by reason of a labor dispute. Earlier, the
union had filed a Notice of Strike against the company on account of a disagreement with the latter
regarding CBA ground rules, i.e., the demand of the Union for Alyansa members from other plants to
attend as observers during the CBA negotiation, and for the members of the negotiating panel to be paid
their wages based on their work shift rate. Moreover, on September 20, 1999, one day before respondents'
mass leave from work and concerted action, they had worn red tag cloth materials on different parts of
their uniform which contained the words, "YES kami sa strike"; "Protesta kami"; "Sahod, karapatan,
manggagawa ipaglaban"; and "Union busting itigil." (Annexes G, G-1, G-2 & G-3). These indicated that the
concerted action taken by respondents against CCBPI was a result of or on account of a labor dispute.
According to the Labor Arbiter, the strike conducted by the Union was illegal since there was no showing
that the Union conducted a strike vote, observed the prescribed cooling-off period, much less, submitted a
strike vote to the DOLE within the required time. Consequently, for knowingly participating in the illegal
strike, the individual petitioners were considered to have lost their employment status.
The Union appealed the decision to the NLRC. On July 31, 2002, the NLRC affirmed the decision of the
Labor Arbiter with the modification that Union Treasurer Charlita M. Abrigo, who was on bereavement leave
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at the time, should be excluded from the list of those who participated in the illegal strike. She was thus
ordered reinstated to her former position with full backwages and benefits.
The Union and its officers, directors and the shop stewards, filed a petition for certiorari in the CA. The case
was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 74174. Another petition was filed by Ricky G. Ganarial and Almira Romo,
docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 74860. The two cases were consolidated in the 6th Division of the CA.
Petitioners alleged the following in their respective petitions:
I
THE NLRC COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OF JURISDICTION FOR
HAVING DECLARED PETITIONERS TO HAVE LOST THEIR EMPLOYMENT WHEN FACTS WOULD SHOW
PETITIONERS WERE NOT AFFORDED DUE PROCESS
II
THE NLRC COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OF JURISDICTION IN
DECLARING THE PEACEFUL PICKETING CONDUCTED BY THE UNION AS ILLEGAL STRIKE DESPITE
ABSENCE OF SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE ON THE INTENT TO CREATE TEMPORARY WORK STOPPAGE
III
THE NLRC COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OF JURISDICTION IN
DECLARING THAT PETITIONERS HAVE LOST THEIR EMPLOYMENT FOR KNOWINGLY PARTICIPATING IN
AN ILLEGAL STRIKE DESPITE THE FACT THAT PETITIONERS ARE NOT ELECTED OFFICERS OF THE UNION
AND ARE MERE SHOP STEWARDS AND DESPITE THE FACT THAT THERE WAS NO PROOF THAT THEY
COMMITTED ILLEGAL ACTS.
The petitioners, likewise, raised the following, to wit:
WHETHER OR NOT PUBLIC RESPONDENT NLRC HAS GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO
EXCESS OR LACK OF JURISDICTION IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE LABOR ARBITER A QUO WHO
COMMITTED SERIOUS ERRORS IN HIS FINDINGS OF FACTS WHEN HE DECLARED THAT THE STRIKE
CONDUCTED BY THE RESPONDENTS ON SEPTEMBER 21, 1999 IS ILLEGAL. ITaESD
WHETHER OR NOT PUBLIC RESPONDENT NLRC HAS GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO
EXCESS OR LACK OF JURISDICTION IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE LABOR ARBITER A QUO WHO
COMMITTED SERIOUS ERRORS IN HIS FINDINGS OF FACTS WHEN HE DECLARED THAT INDIVIDUAL
RESPONDENTS (NOW PETITIONERS), INCLUDING SIX (6) UNION SHOP STEWARDS, ARE CONSIDERED TO
HAVE LOST THEIR EMPLOYMENT STATUS (EXCEPT CHARLITA ABRIGO) FOR KNOWINGLY PARTICIPATING
IN SAID ILLEGAL STRIKE.
On September 10, 2003, the CA rendered judgment dismissing the petition for lack of merit. It also
declared that petitioners, in CA-G.R. SP No. 74860, were guilty of forum shopping.
Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration which the appellate court denied; hence, the instant petition
was filed based on the following grounds:
(1) THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS HAS GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN DISMISSING THE
PETITION BEFORE IT FOR LACK OF MERIT WHEN IT IS CLEAR FROM THE EVIDENCE ON RECORD THAT
THE SUBJECT MASS ACTION WAS A VALID EXERCISE OF THE WORKERS' CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO
PICKET WHICH IS PART OF THE RIGHT TO FREE EXPRESSION.

(2) THE NLRC GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE LABOR
ARBITER A QUO WHEN IT CONCLUDED THAT AS A CONSEQUENCE OF THE ILLEGALITY OF THE STRIKE,
THE DISMISSAL OF THE OFFICERS OF THE UNION IS JUSTIFIED AND VALID, IS NOT IN ACCORD WITH
FACTS AND EVIDENCE ON RECORD.
(3) EVEN ASSUMING ARGUENDO THAT THE PROTEST MASS ACTION STAGED BY PETITIONERS ON
SEPTEMBER 21, 1999 CONSTITUTES A STRIKE, THE NLRC SERIOUSLY ERRED WHEN IT AFFIRMED THE
LABOR ARBITER'S DECISION DECLARING THE FORFEITURE OF EMPLOYMENT STATUS OF UNION
OFFICERS AND SHOP STEWARDS (WHO HAVE NOT COMMITTED ANY ILLEGAL ACT DURING THE
CONDUCT OF THE SAID MASS ACTION) FOR HAVING KNOWINGLY PARTICIPATED IN AN ILLEGAL
STRIKE.
The threshold issues in these cases are: (a) whether the September 21, 1999 mass action staged by the
Union was a strike; (b) if, in the affirmative, whether it was legal; and (c) whether the individual officers
and shop stewards of petitioner Union should be dismissed from their employment.
On the first and second issues, petitioners maintain that the September 21, 1999 mass protest action was
not a strike but a picket, a valid exercise of their constitutional right to free expression and assembly. It
was a peaceful mass protest action to dramatize their legitimate grievances against respondent. They did
not intend to have a work stoppage since they knew beforehand that no bottling operations were scheduled
on September 21, 1999 pursuant to the Logistics Planning Services Mega Manila Production Plan dated
September 15, 1999. Thus, they applied for leaves of absences for September 21, 1999 which, however,
were not approved. They also obtained a mayor's permit to hold the picket near the highway, and they
faithfully complied with the conditions set therein. The protesting workers were merely marching to and fro
at the side of the highway or the loading bay near one of the gates of the Company plant, certainly not
blocking in any way the ingress or egress from the Company's premises. Their request to hold their activity
was for four (4) hours, which was reduced to three (3) hours. Thereafter, they all went back to work. The
bottling operations of the Company was not stopped, even temporarily. Since petitioner Union did not
intend to go on strike, there was no need to observe the mandatory legal requirements for the conduct of a
strike. TaSEHC
Petitioners also point out that members belonging to the IBM-KMU at the San Fernando Coca-Cola bottling
plant staged simultaneous walkout from their work assignments for two consecutive days, on October 7
and 8, 1999. However, the Secretary of Labor and Employment (SOLE) declared that the walkout was
considered a mass action, not a strike, and the officers of the IBM-KMU were only meted a three-day
suspension. Respondent accepted the decision of the SOLE and no longer appealed the decision. Petitioners
insist that this should, likewise, apply in the resolution of the issue of whether petitioners staged a strike or
not, and whether the penalty of dismissal from the employment with the respondent is just and equitable.
Petitioners also insist that they were denied the right to due process because the decision of the Labor
Arbiter was implemented even while their appeal was pending in the NLRC. The decision of the Labor
Arbiter against them was to become final and executory only until after the NLRC shall have resolved their
appeal with finality.
On the third issue, petitioners aver that even assuming that they had indeed staged a strike, the penalty of
dismissal is too harsh. They insist that they acted in good faith. Besides, under Article 264 of the Labor
Code, the dismissal of the Union officers who participated in an illegal strike is discretionary on the
employer. Moreover, six (6) of the petitioners were shop stewards who were mere members of the Union
and not officers thereof.

In its comment on the petition, respondent avers that the issues raised by petitioners are factual; hence,
inappropriate in a petition for review oncertiorari. Besides, the findings of the Labor Arbiter had been
affirmed by the NLRC and the CA, and are, thus, conclusive on this Court.
Respondent further avers that the law offers no discretion as to the proper penalty that should be imposed
against a Union official participating in an illegal strike. Contrary to the contention of petitioners, shop
stewards are also Union officers. To support its claim, respondent cited Samahan ng Manggagawa sa

Moldex Products, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission, International Brotherhood of Teamsters,
Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America v. Hoffa; and Coleman v. Brotherhood of Railway and
Steamship Clerks, etc.
The petition is denied for lack of merit.
The ruling of the CA that petitioners staged a strike on September 21, 1999, and not merely a picket is
correct.
It bears stressing that this is a finding made by the Labor Arbiter which was affirmed by the NLRC and the
CA. The settled rule is that the factual findings and conclusions of tribunals, as long as they are based on
substantial evidence, are conclusive on this Court. The raison d'etre is that quasi-judicial agencies, like the
Labor Arbiter and the NLRC, have acquired a unique expertise since their jurisdictions are confined to
specific matters. Besides, under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, the factual issues raised by the petitioner are
inappropriate in a petition for review oncertiorari. Whether petitioners staged a strike or not is a factual
issue.
Petitioners failed to establish that the NLRC committed grave abuse of its discretion amounting to excess or
lack of jurisdiction in affirming the findings of the Labor Arbiter that petitioners had indeed staged a strike.
Article 212 (o) of the Labor Code defines strike as a temporary stoppage of work by the concerted action of
employees as a result of an industrial or labor dispute. In Bangalisan v. Court of Appeals, the Court ruled
that "the fact that the conventional term strike' was not used by the striking employees to describe their
common course of action is inconsequential, since the substance of the situation, and not its appearance,
will be deemed to be controlling." The term "strike" encompasses not only concerted work stoppages, but
also slowdowns, mass leaves, sit-downs, attempts to damage, destroy or sabotage plant equipment and
facilities, and similar activities.
Picketing involves merely the marching to and fro at the premises of the employer, usually accompanied by
the display of placards and other signs making known the facts involved in a labor dispute. As applied to a
labor dispute, to picket means the stationing of one or more persons to observe and attempt to observe.
The purpose of pickets is said to be a means of peaceable persuasion.
A labor dispute includes any controversy or matter concerning terms or conditions of employment or the
association or representation of persons in negotiating, fixing, maintaining, changing or arranging the terms
and conditions of employment, regardless of whether the disputants stand in the proximate relation of
employer and employee.
That there was a labor dispute between the parties, in this case, is not an issue. Petitioners notified the
respondent of their intention to stage a strike, and not merely to picket. Petitioners' insistence to stage a
strike is evident in the fact that an amended notice to strike was filed even as respondent moved to dismiss
the first notice. The basic elements of a strike are present in this case: 106 members of petitioner Union,
whose respective applications for leave of absence on September 21, 1999 were disapproved, opted not to
report for work on said date, and gathered in front of the company premises to hold a mass protest action.
Petitioners deliberately absented themselves and instead wore red ribbons, carried placards with slogans
such as: "YES KAMI SA STRIKE," "PROTESTA KAMI," "SAHOD, KARAPATAN NG MANGGAGAWA
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IPAGLABAN," "CBA-'WAG BABOYIN," "STOP UNION BUSTING." They marched to and fro in front of the
company's premises during working hours. Thus, petitioners engaged in a concerted activity which already
affected the company's operations. The mass concerted activity constituted a strike. aHCSTD
The bare fact that petitioners were given a Mayor's permit is not conclusive evidence that their
action/activity did not amount to a strike. The Mayor's description of what activities petitioners were
allowed to conduct is inconsequential. To repeat, what is definitive of whether the action staged by
petitioners is a strike and not merely a picket is the totality of the circumstances surrounding the situation.
A strike is the most powerful of the economic weapons of workers which they unsheathe to force
management to agree to an equitable sharing of the joint product of labor and capital. It is a weapon that
can either breathe life to or destroy the Union and its members in their struggle with management for a
more equitable due to their labors. The decision to declare a strike must therefore rest on a rational basis,
free from emotionalism, envisaged by the tempers and tantrums of a few hot heads, and finally focused on
the legitimate interests of the Union which should not, however, be antithetical to the public welfare, and,
to be valid, a strike must be pursued within legal bounds. The right to strike as a means of attainment of
social justice is never meant to oppress or destroy the employer.
Since strikes cause disparity effects not only on the relationship between labor and management but also
on the general peace and progress of society, the law has provided limitations on the right to strike. For a
strike to be valid, the following procedural requisites provided by Art. 263 of the Labor Code must be
observed: (a) a notice of strike filed with the DOLE 30 days before the intended date thereof, or 15 days in
case of unfair labor practice; (b) strike vote approved by a majority of the total union membership in the
bargaining unit concerned obtained by secret ballot in a meeting called for that purpose, (c) notice given to
the DOLE of the results of the voting at least seven days before the intended strike. These requirements
are mandatory and the failure of a union to comply therewith renders the strike illegal. It is clear in this
case that petitioners totally ignored the statutory requirements and embarked on their illegal strike. We
quote, with approval, the ruling of the CA which affirmed the decisions of the NLRC and of the Labor
Arbiter:
Since it becomes undisputed that the mass action was indeed a strike, the next issue is to determine
whether the same was legal or not. Records reveal that the said strike did not comply with the
requirements of Article 263 (F) in relation to Article 264 of the Labor Code, which specifically provides,
thus:
ART. 263. STRIKES, PICKETING, AND LOCKOUTS
xxx xxx xxx
(f) A decision to declare a strike must be approved by a majority of the total union membership in the
bargaining unit concerned, obtained by secret ballot in meetings or referenda called for that purpose. A
decision to declare a lockout must be approved by a majority of the board of directors of the corporation or
association or of the partners in a partnership, obtained by secret ballot in a meeting called for that
purpose. The decision shall be valid for the duration of the dispute based on substantially the same grounds
considered when the strike or lockout vote was taken. The Ministry may at its own initiative or upon the
request of any affected party, supervise the conduct of the secret balloting. In every case, the union or the
employer shall furnish the Ministry the results of the voting at least seven days before the intended strike or
lockout, subject to the cooling-off period herein provided.
ART. 264. PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES
(a) No labor organization or employer shall declare a strike or lockout without first having bargained
collectively in accordance with Title VII of this Book or without first having filed the notice required in the
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preceding article or without the necessary strike or lockout vote first having been obtained and reported to
the Ministry.
No strike or lockout shall be declared after assumption of jurisdiction by the President or the Minister or
after certification or submission of the dispute to compulsory or voluntary arbitration or during the
pendency of cases involving the same grounds for the strike or lockout.
Any worker whose employment has been terminated as a consequence or an unlawful lockout shall be
entitled to reinstatement with full backwages. Any union officer who knowingly participates in an illegal
strike and any worker or union officer who knowingly participates in the commission of illegal acts during a
strike may be declared to have lost his employment status: Provided, That mere participation of a worker in
a lawful strike shall not constitute sufficient ground for termination of his employment, even if a
replacement had been hired by the employer during such lawful strike.
xxx xxx xxx
Applying the aforecited mandatory requirements to the case at bench, the Labor Arbiter found, thus:
In the present case, there is no evidence on record to show that respondents had complied with the above
mandatory requirements of law for a valid strike. Particularly, there is no showing that respondents had
observed the prescribed cooling-off period, conducted a strike vote, much less submitted a strike vote
report to the Department of Labor within the required time. This being the case, respondents' strike on
September 21, 1999 is illegal. In the recent case of CCBPI Postmix Workers Union vs. NLRC, 2999 (sic)
SCRA 410, the Supreme Court had said: "It bears stressing that the strike requirements under Article 264
and 265 of the Labor Code are mandatory requisites, without which, the strike will be considered illegal.
The evidence (sic) intention of the law in requiring the strike notice and strike-vote report as mandatory
requirements is to reasonably regulate the right to strike which is essential to the attainment of legitimate
policy objectives embodied in the law. Verily, substantial compliance with a mandatory provision will not
suffice. Strict adherence to the mandate of the law is required.
Aside from the above infirmity, the strike staged by respondents was, further, in violation of the CBA which
stipulated under Section 1, Article VI, thereof that,
SECTION 1. The UNION agrees that there shall be no strike, walkout, stoppage or slowdown of work,
boycott, secondary boycott, refusal to handle any merchandise, picketing, sitdown strikes of any kind,
sympathetic or general strike, or any other interference with any of the operations of the COMPANY during
the term of this Agreement, so long as the grievance procedure for which provision is made herein is
followed by the COMPANY.
Here, it is not disputed that respondents had not referred their issues to the grievance machinery as a prior
step. Instead, they chose to go on strike right away, thereby bypassing the required grievance procedure
dictated by the CBA.
On the second and third issues, the ruling of the CA affirming the decisions of the NLRC and the Labor
Arbiter ordering the dismissal of the petitioners-officers, directors and shop stewards of petitioner Union is
correct.
It bears stressing, however, that the law makes a distinction between union members and union officers. A
worker merely participating in an illegal strike may not be terminated from employment. It is only when he
commits illegal acts during a strike that he may be declared to have lost employment status. For knowingly
participating in an illegal strike or participates in the commission of illegal acts during a strike, the law
provides that a union officer may be terminated from employment. The law grants the employer the option
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of declaring a union officer who participated in an illegal strike as having lost his employment. It possesses
the right and prerogative to terminate the union officers from service.
We quote, with approval, the following ruling of the Court of Appeals:
As to the imposition of the penalty provided for should an illegal strike be declared as such, We find no
legal or factual reason to digress from the following disquisition of the Labor Arbiter, to wit:
No doubt, the strike conducted by respondents on September 21, 1999 is illegal. Under Article 264(a) of the
Labor Code, it is stated that, 'Any union officer who knowingly participates in the commission of illegal acts
during a strike may be declared to have lost his employment status. . . . .' In the present case, CCBPI had
already promptly notified respondents and their members of the disapproval of their leave. In fact, in the
company notice (of the disapproval of their leave), CCBPI emphasized that "operations will come to a
complete stop on September 21, 1999 if all the applications are approved." They were further informed
that, 'there are no sufficiently trained contractual employees who can take over as replacements on that
day' (Annexes "C," "C-1" to "C-18"). In other words, respondents had known beforehand that their planned
mass leave would definitely result in a stoppage of the operations of the company for September 21, 1999.
Still, respondents knowingly and deliberately proceeded with their mass action, unmindful of the ill effects
thereof on the business operations of the company. In the case of Association of Independent Unions in the
Philippines v. NLRC, 305 SCRA 219, the Supreme Court had ruled that,
Union officers are duty-bound to guide their members to respect the law. If instead of doing so, the officers
urge the members to violate the law and defy the duly constituted authorities, their dismissal from the
service is just penalty or sanction for their unlawful acts. The officers' responsibility is greater than that of
the members.
Here, the law required respondents to follow a set of mandatory procedures before they could go on with
their strike. But obviously, rather than call on their members to comply therewith, respondents were the
first ones to violate the same.
Petitioners cannot find solace in the Order of the Secretary of Labor and Employment (SOLE) in OS-A-J0033-99, NCMB-RB 111-NS-10-44-99 and 11-51-99 involving the labor dispute between the Company and
the Union therein (the Ilaw at Buklod ng Manggagawa Local No. 1, representing the daily paid rank and file
members of the respondent, as well as the plant-based route helpers and drivers at its San Fernando
Plant). In said case, the SOLE found that the simultaneous walkout staged on October 7 and 8, 1999 was
indeed a mass action, initiated by the Union leaders. The acts of the Union leaders were, however, found to
be illegal which warranted their dismissal, were it not for the presence of mitigating factors, i.e., the
walkout was staged in support of their leaders in the course of the CBA negotiation which was pending for
more than nine (9) months; the Plant was not fully disrupted as the Company was able to operate despite
the severe action of the Union members, with the employment of casual and contractual workers; the
Union had complied with the requirements of a strike and refrained from staging an actual strike.
Neither can the petitioners find refuge in the rulings of this Court in Panay Electric Company v. NLRC or
in Lapanday Workers Union v. NLRC. In the Panay case, the Court meted the suspension of the union
officers, instead of terminating their employment status since the NLRC found no sufficient proof of bad
faith on the part of the union officers who took part in the strike to protest the dismissal of their fellow
worker, Enrique Huyan which was found to be illegal. In Lapanday, the Court actually affirmed the dismissal
of the union officers who could not claim good faith to exculpate themselves. The officers, in fact, admitted
knowledge of the law on strike, including its procedure in conducting the same. The Court held that the
officers cannot violate the law which was designed to promote their interests.

Finally, the contention of petitioners Elenette Moises, Almira Romo, Louie Labayani, Ricky Ganarial, Efren
Galan and Jun Carmelito Santos who were appointed as shop stewards of the Union that they were mere
members and not the officers of petitioner Union is barren of merit.
We agree with the observation of respondent that under Section 501 (a) and (b) of the Landrum Griffin Act
of 1959, shop stewards are officers of the Union:
Sec. 501. (a) The officers, agents, shop stewards, and other representatives of a labor organization occupy
positions of trust in relation to such organization and its members as a group. It is, therefore, the duty of
each such person, taking into account the special problems and functions of a labor organization, to hold its
money and property solely for the benefit of the organization and its members and to manage, invest, and
expend the same in accordance with its constitution and bylaws and any resolutions of the governing
bodies adopted thereunder, to refrain from dealing with such organization as an adverse party in any
matter connected with his duties and from holding or acquiring any pecuniary or personal interest which
conflicts with the interest of such organization, and to account to the organization for any profit received by
him in whatever capacity in connection with transactions conducted by him or under his direction on behalf
of the organization. A general exculpatory resolution of a governing body purporting to relieve any such
person of liability for breach of the duties declared by this section shall be void as against public policy.
(b) When any officer, agent, shop steward, or representative of any labor organization is alleged to have
violated the duties declared in subsection (a) of this section and the labor organization or its governing
board or officers refuse or fail to sue or recover damages or secure an accounting or other appropriate
relief within a reasonable time after being requested to do so by any member of the labor organization,
such member may sue such officer, agent, shop steward, or representative in any district court of the
United States or in any State court of competent jurisdiction to recover damages or secure an accounting or
other appropriate relief for the benefit of the labor organization.
Under said Act, Section 3 (q) thereof provides, as follows:
(q) "Officer, agent, shop steward, or other representative", when used with respect to a labor organization,
includes elected officials and key administrative personnel, whether elected or appointed (such as business
agents, heads of departments or major units, and organizers who exercise substantial independent
authority), but does not include salaried non-supervisory professional staff, stenographic, and service
personnel.
Admittedly, there is no similar provision in the Labor Code of the Philippines; nonetheless, petitioners who
are shop stewards are considered union officers.
Officers normally mean those who hold defined offices. An officer is any person occupying a position
identified as an office. An office may be provided in the constitution of a labor union or by the union itself in
its CBA with the employer. An office is a word of familiar usage and should be construed according to the
sense of the thing.
Irrefragably, under its Constitution and By-Laws, petitioner Union has principal officers and subordinate
officers, who are either elected by its members, or appointed by its president, including the standing
committees each to be headed by a member of the Board of Directors. Thus, under Section 1, Article VI of
petitioner Union's Constitution and By-Laws, the principal officers and other officers, as well as their
functions/duties and terms of office, are as follows:
ARTICLE VI
PRINCIPAL OFFICERS

10

SECTION 1. The governing body of the UNION shall be the following officers who shall be elected through
secret ballot by the general membership:
President Auditor
Vice-President two (2) Public Relations Officer
Secretary Sergeant-at-Arms
Treasurer Board of Directors nine (9)
SECTION 2. The above officers shall administer Union's affairs, formulate policies and implement programs
to effectively carry out the objectives of the UNION and the Labor Code of the Philippines and manage all
the monies and property of the UNION.
SECTION 3. The officers of the UNION and the members of the Board of Directors shall hold office for a
period of five (5) years from the date of their election until their successors shall have been duly elected
and qualified; provided that they remain members of the UNION in good standing.
Section 6, Article II of the CBA of petitioner Union and respondent defines the position of shop steward,
thus:
SECTION 6. Shop Stewards. The UNION shall certify a total of eight (8) shop stewards and shall inform
management of the distribution of these stewards among the departments concerned. SaTAED
Shop Stewards, union officers and members or employees shall not lose pay for attending UnionManagement Labor dialogues, investigations and grievance meetings with management.
Section 6, Rule XIX of the Implementing Rules of Book V of the Labor Code mentions the functions and
duties of shop stewards, as follows:
Section 2. Procedures in handling grievances. In the absence of a specific provision in the collective
bargaining agreement prescribing for the procedures in handling grievance, the following shall apply:
(a) An employee shall present this grievance or complaint orally or in writing to the shop steward. Upon
receipt thereof, the shop steward shall verify the facts and determine whether or not the grievance is valid.
(b) If the grievance is valid, the shop steward shall immediately bring the complaint to the employee's
immediate supervisor. The shop steward, the employee and his immediate supervisor shall exert efforts to
settle the grievance at their level.
(c) If no settlement is reached, the grievance shall be referred to the grievance committee which shall have
ten (10) days to decide the case.
Where the issue involves or arises from the interpretation or implementation of a provision in the collective
bargaining agreement, or from any order, memorandum, circular or assignment issued by the appropriate
authority in the establishment, and such issue cannot be resolved at the level of the shop steward or the
supervisor, the same may be referred immediately to the grievance committee.
All grievance unsettled or unresolved within seven (7) calendar days from the date of its submission to the
last step in the grievance machinery shall automatically be referred to a voluntary arbitrator chosen in
accordance with the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement, or in the absence of such provisions,
by mutual agreement of the parties.
Thus, a shop steward is appointed by the Union in a shop, department, or plant serves as representative of
the Union, charged with negotiating and adjustment of grievances of employees with the supervisor of the
11

employer. He is the representative of the Union members in a building or other workplace. Black's Law
Dictionary defines a shop steward as a union official who represents members in a particular department.
His duties include the conduct of initial negotiations for settlement of grievances. He is to help other
members when they have concerns with the employer or other work-related issues. He is the first person
that workers turn to for assistance or information. If someone has a problem at work, the steward will help
them sort it out or, if necessary, help them file a complaint. In the performance of his duties, he has to
take cognizance of and resolve, in the first instance, the grievances of the members of the Union. He is
empowered to decide for himself whether the grievance or complaint of a member of the petitioner Union is
valid, and if valid, to resolve the same with the supervisor failing which, the matter would be elevated to
the Grievance Committee.
It is quite clear that the jurisdiction of shop stewards and the supervisors includes the determination of the
issues arising from the interpretation or even implementation of a provision of the CBA, or from any order
or memorandum, circular or assignments issued by the appropriate authority in the establishment. In fine,
they are part and parcel of the continuous process of grievance resolution designed to preserve and
maintain peace among the employees and their employer. They occupy positions of trust and laden with
awesome responsibilities.
In this case, instead of playing the role of "peacemakers" and grievance solvers, the petitioners-shop
stewards participated in the strike. Thus, like the officers and directors of petitioner Union who joined the
strike, petitioners-shop stewards also deserve the penalty of dismissal from their employment.
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The Decision of the Court of
Appeals is AFFIRMED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
||| (Santa Rosa Coca-Cola Plant Employees Union v. Coca-Cola Bottlers Phils., Inc., G.R. Nos. 164302-03,

[January 24, 2007], 541 PHIL 421-448)

Effect of Illegal strike to Union Members and Officers


[G.R. No. 196156. January 15, 2014.]
VISAYAS COMMUNITY MEDICAL CENTER (VCMC), Formerly known as METRO CEBU
COMMUNITY HOSPITAL (MCCH),petitioner, vs. ERMA YBALLE, NELIA ANGEL, ELEUTERIA
CORTEZ and EVELYN ONG, respondents.
DECISION
VILLARAMA, JR., J p:
The present petition was included in the four consolidated cases previously decided by this
Court. However, its reinstatement and separate disposition became necessary due to oversight in the
issuance of the order of consolidation.
The Facts
Respondents were hired as staff nurses (Ong and Angel) and midwives (Yballe and Cortez) by petitioner
Visayas Community Medical Center (VCMC), formerly the Metro Cebu Community Hospital, Inc. (MCCHI).
MCCHI is a non-stock, non-profit corporation which operates the Metro Cebu Community Hospital (MCCH),
a tertiary medical institution owned by the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP).
12

Considering the similar factual setting, we quote the relevant portions of the narration of facts in our
Decision dated December 7, 2011 in Abaria v. NLRC: ACEIac
The National Federation of Labor (NFL) is the exclusive bargaining representative of the rank-and-file
employees of MCCHI. Under the 1987 and 1991 Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs), the signatories
were Ciriaco B. Pongasi, Sr. for MCCHI, and Atty. Armando M. Alforque (NFL Legal Counsel) and Paterno A.
Lumapguid as President of NFL-MCCH Chapter. In the CBA effective from January 1994 until December 31,
1995, the signatories were Sheila E. Buot as Board of Trustees Chairman, Rev. Iyoy as MCCH Administrator
and Atty. Fernando Yu as Legal Counsel of NFL, while Perla Nava, President of Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa
MCCH (NAMA-MCCH-NFL) signed the Proof of Posting.
On December 6, 1995, Nava wrote Rev. Iyoy expressing the union's desire to renew the CBA, attaching to
her letter a statement of proposals signed/endorsed by 153 union members. Nava subsequently requested
that the following employees be allowed to avail of one-day union leave with pay on December 19, 1995:
Celia Sabas, Jesusa Gerona, Albina Baez, Eddie Villa, Roy Malazarte, Ernesto Canen, Jr., Guillerma
Remocaldo, Catalina Alsado, Evelyn Ong, Melodia Paulin, Sofia Bautista, Hannah Bongcaras, Ester Villarin,
Iluminada Wenceslao and Perla Nava. However, MCCHI returned the CBA proposal for Nava to secure first
the endorsement of the legal counsel of NFL as the official bargaining representative of MCCHI
employees. HTaIAC
Meanwhile, Atty. Alforque informed MCCHI that the proposed CBA submitted by Nava was never referred to
NFL and that NFL has not authorized any other legal counsel or any person for collective bargaining
negotiations. By January 1996, the collection of union fees (check-off) was temporarily suspended by
MCCHI in view of the existing conflict between the federation and its local affiliate. Thereafter, MCCHI
attempted to take over the room being used as union office but was prevented to do so by Nava and her
group who protested these actions and insisted that management directly negotiate with them for a new
CBA. MCCHI referred the matter to Atty. Alforque, NFL's Regional Director, and advised Nava that their
group is not recognized by NFL.
In his letter dated February 24, 1996 addressed to Nava, Ernesto Canen, Jr., Jesusa Gerona, Hannah
Bongcaras, Emma Remocaldo, Catalina Alsado and Albina Baez, Atty. Alforque suspended their union
membership for serious violation of the Constitution and By-Laws. Said letter states:
xxx xxx xxx
On February 26, 1996, upon the request of Atty. Alforque, MCCHI granted one-day union leave with pay for
12 union members. The next day, several union members led by Nava and her group launched a series of
mass actions such as wearing black and red armbands/headbands, marching around the hospital premises
and putting up placards, posters and streamers. Atty. Alforque immediately disowned the concerted
activities being carried out by union members which are not sanctioned by NFL. MCCHI directed the union
officers led by Nava to submit within 48 hours a written explanation why they should not be terminated for
having engaged in illegal concerted activities amounting to strike, and placed them under immediate
preventive suspension. Responding to this directive, Nava and her group denied there was a temporary
stoppage of work, explaining that employees wore their armbands only as a sign of protest and reiterating
their demand for MCCHI to comply with its duty to bargain collectively. Rev. Iyoy, having been informed
that Nava and her group have also been suspended by NFL, directed said officers to appear before his
office for investigation in connection with the illegal strike wherein they reportedly uttered slanderous and
scurrilous words against the officers of the hospital, threatening other workers and forcing them to join the
strike. Said union officers, however, invoked the grievance procedure provided in the CBA to settle the
dispute between management and the union.
13

On March 13 and 19, 1996, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Regional Office No. 7 issued
certifications stating that there is nothing in their records which shows that NAMA-MCCH-NFL is a registered
labor organization, and that said union submitted only a copy of its Charter Certificate on January 31, 1995.
MCCHI then sent individual notices to all union members asking them to submit within 72 hours a written
explanation why they should not be terminated for having supported the illegal concerted activities of
NAMA-MCCH-NFL which has no legal personality as per DOLE records. In their collective
response/statement dated March 18, 1996, it was explained that the picketing employees wore armbands
to protest MCCHI's refusal to bargain; it was also contended that MCCHI cannot question the legal
personality of the union which had actively assisted in CBA negotiations and implementation.
On March 13, 1996, NAMA-MCCH-NFL filed a Notice of Strike but the same was deemed not filed for want
of legal personality on the part of the filer. The National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) Region 7
office likewise denied their motion for reconsideration on March 25, 1996. Despite such rebuff, Nava and
her group still conducted a strike vote on April 2, 1996 during which an overwhelming majority of union
members approved the strike.
Meanwhile, the scheduled investigations did not push through because the striking union members insisted
on attending the same only as a group. MCCHI again sent notices informing them that their refusal to
submit to investigation is deemed a waiver of their right to explain their side and management shall
proceed to impose proper disciplinary action under the circumstances. On March 30, 1996, MCCHI sent
termination letters to union leaders and other members who participated in the strike and picketing
activities. On April 8, 1996, it also issued a cease-and-desist order to the rest of the striking employees
stressing that the wildcat concerted activities spearheaded by the Nava group is illegal without a valid
Notice of Strike and warning them that non-compliance will compel management to impose disciplinary
actions against them. For their continued picketing activities despite the said warning, more than 100
striking employees were dismissed effective April 12 and 19, 1996.
Unfazed, the striking union members held more mass actions. The means of ingress to and egress from the
hospital were blocked so that vehicles carrying patients and employees were barred from entering the
premises. Placards were placed at the hospital's entrance gate stating: "Please proceed to another hospital"
and "we are on protest." Employees and patients reported acts of intimidation and harassment perpetrated
by union leaders and members. With the intensified atmosphere of violence and animosity within the
hospital premises as a result of continued protest activities by union members, MCCHI suffered heavy
losses due to low patient admission rates. The hospital's suppliers also refused to make further deliveries
on credit.
With the volatile situation adversely affecting hospital operations and the condition of confined patients,
MCCHI filed a petition for injunction in the NLRC (Cebu City) on July 9, 1996 (Injunction Case No. V-000696). A temporary restraining order (TRO) was issued on July 16, 1996. MCCHI presented 12 witnesses
(hospital employees and patients), including a security guard who was stabbed by an identified sympathizer
while in the company of Nava's group. MCCHI's petition was granted and a permanent injunction was
issued on September 18, 1996 enjoining the Nava group from committing illegal acts mentioned in Art. 264
of the Labor Code.
On August 27, 1996, the City Government of Cebu ordered the demolition of the structures and
obstructions put up by the picketing employees of MCCHI along the sidewalk, having determined the same
as a public nuisance or nuisance per se.
Thereafter, several complaints for illegal dismissal and unfair labor practice were filed by the terminated
employees against MCCHI, Rev. Iyoy, UCCP and members of the Board of Trustees of MCCHI.
14

On August 4, 1999, Executive Labor Arbiter Reynoso A. Belarmino rendered his Decision in the
consolidated cases which included NLRC Case No. RAB-VII-02-0309-98 filed by herein respondents. The
dispositive portion of said decision reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered dismissing the claim of unfair labor
practice and illegal dismissal and declaring the termination of the following as an offshoot of the illegal
strike: Perla Nava, Catalina Alsado, Albina Baez, Hannah Bongcaras, Ernesto Canen, Jesusa Gerona and
Guillerma Remocaldo but directing the respondent Metro Cebu Community Hospital to pay the herein
complainants separation pay in the sum of THREE MILLION EIGHTY FIVE THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED
NINETY SEVEN and [40]/100 (P3,085,897.40) detailed as follows:
xxx xxx xxx
79.Erma Yballe
6/11/83-4/19/96: 12 years, 10 mos. (13 years)
P5,000.00 2 x 13 = 32,500.00
80.Eleuteria Cortez
12/13/[74] - /12/96: 21 years, 4 mos. (21 years)
P5,000.00 2 x 21 = 52,500.00
81.Nelia Angel
6/01/88-4/12/96: 7 years, 10 mos. (8 years)
P5,000.00 2 x 8 = 20,000.00
82.Evelyn Ong
7/07/86-4/12/96: 9 years, 9 mos. (10 years)
P5,000.00 2 x 10 = 25,000.00
xxx xxx xxx
SO ORDERED.
Executive Labor Arbiter Belarmino ruled that MCCHI and its administrators were not guilty of unfair labor
practice. He likewise upheld the termination of complainants union officers who conducted the illegal strike.
The rest of the complainants were found to have been illegally dismissed, thus:
We, however, see that the NAMA members deserve a different treatment. As the Court said, members of a
union cannot be held responsible for an illegal strike on the sole basis of such membership, or even on an
account of their affirmative vote authorizing the same. They become liable only if they actually participated
therein (ESSO Phil., Inc. vs. Malayang Manggagawa sa Esso, 75 SCRA 73). But the illegality of their
participation is placed in a state of doubt they, being merely followers. Under the circumstances, We resort
to Art. 4 of the Labor Code favoring the workingman in case of doubt in the interpretation and
implementation of laws.
Obviously swayed by the actuations of their leaders, herein complainants ought to be reinstated as a matter
of policy but without backwages for they cannot be compensated having skipped work during the illegal
strike (National Federation of Sugar Workers vs. Overseas et al. 114 SCRA 354). But with their positions
already taken over by their replacements and with strained relations between the parties having taken
15

place, We deem it fair that complainants except for the seven officers, should be paid separation pay of
one-half (1/2) month for every year of service by the respondent hospital.
Respondents and their co-complainants filed their respective appeals before the National Labor Relations
Commission (NLRC) Cebu City. On February 15, 2001, respondents and MCCHI jointly moved to defer
resolution of their appeal (NLRC Case No. V-001042-99) in view of a possible compromise. Consequently, in
its Decision dated March 14, 2001, the NLRC's Fourth Division (Cebu City) resolved only the appeals filed
by respondents' co-complainants. The dispositive portion of said decision reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision of the Executive Labor Arbiter dismissing the complaint
for unfair labor practice and illegal dismissal is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS declaring the dismissal
of all the complainants in RAB Case No. 07-02-0394-98 and RAB Case No. 07-03-0596-98 valid and legal.
Necessarily, the award of separation pay and attorney's fees are hereby Deleted.
Resolution on RAB Case No. 07-02-0309-98 is hereby Deferred upon Joint Motion of the parties.
SO ORDERED.
The NLRC denied the motion for reconsideration of the above decision under its Resolution dated July 2,
2001.
Having failed to reach a settlement, respondents' counsel filed a motion to resolve their appeal on January
2, 2003. Thus, on March 12, 2003, the NLRC-Cebu City Fourth Division rendered its Decision, as follows:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision of the Executive Labor Arbiter dismissing the complaint
for unfair labor practice and illegal dismissal is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS declaring all the
complainants to have been validly dismissed. Necessarily, the award of separation pay and attorney's fees
are hereby Deleted.
SO ORDERED.
In deleting the award of separation pay and attorney's fees, the NLRC emphasized that respondents and
their co-complainants are guilty of insubordination, having persisted in their illegal concerted activities even
after MCCHI had sent them individual notices that the strike was illegal as it was filed by NAMA-MCCH-NFL
which is not a legitimate labor organization. It held that under the circumstances where the striking
employees harassed, threatened and prevented non-striking employees and doctors from entering hospital
premises, blocked vehicles carrying patients to the hospital premises and caused anxiety to recuperating
patients by displaying placards along the corridors of the hospital, and the resulting decrease in hospital
admission, refusal of suppliers to make further deliveries due to fears of violence erupting as a result of
picketing, and diminished income due to low admission rates, it would be unfair to saddle MCCHI with the
burden of paying separation pay to complainants who were validly dismissed. caCEDA
Respondents' motion for reconsideration was denied by the NLRC under its Resolution dated April 13,
2004.
Meanwhile, the petition for certiorari filed by respondents' co-complainants in the Court of Appeals (CA)
Cebu Station (CA-G.R. SP No. 66540) was initially dismissed by the CA's Eighth Division on the ground that
out of 88 petitioners only 47 have signed the certification against forum shopping. On motion for
reconsideration filed by said petitioners, the petition was reinstated but only with respect to the 47
signatories. Said ruling was challenged by complainants before this Court via a petition for review
oncertiorari, docketed as G.R. No. 154113 (Abaria, et al. v. NLRC, et al.).
On October 17, 2008, the CA dismissed the petition in CA-G.R. SP No. 66540, as follows:
16

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby renderedAFFIRMING the Decision of the


National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) Fourth Division dated March 14, 2001 in NLRC Case No. V001042-99, WITH MODIFICATIONS to the effect that (1) the petitioners, except the union officers, shall
be awarded separation pay equivalent to one-half (1/2) month pay for every year of service, and (2)
petitioner Cecilia Sabas shall be awarded overtime pay amounting to sixty-three (63) hours.
SO ORDERED. TESICD
The motion for reconsideration and motion for partial reconsideration respectively filed by the complainants
and MCCHI in CA-G.R. SP No. 66540 were likewise denied by the CA. Both parties elevated the case to this
Court in separate petitions: G.R. No. 187778 (Perla Nava, et al. v. NLRC, et al.) and G.R. No. 187861 (Metro
Cebu Community Hospital v. Perla Nava, et al.).
Herein respondents also filed in the CA a petition for certiorari assailing the March 12, 2003 Decision and
April 13, 2004 Resolution of the NLRC, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 84998 (Cebu City). By Decision dated
November 7, 2008, the CA granted their petition, as follows:
WHEREFORE, the challenged Decision of public respondent dated March 12, 2003 and its Resolution
dated April 13, 2004 are herebyREVERSED AND SET ASIDE. Private respondent Metro Cebu Community
Hospital is ordered to reinstate petitioners Erma Yballe, Eleuteria Cortes, Nelia Angel and Evelyn Ong
without loss of seniority rights and other privileges; to pay them their full backwages inclusive of their
allowances and other benefits computed from the time of their dismissal up to the time of their actual
reinstatement.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration which the CA denied in its February 22, 2011 Resolution.
The Case
The present petition (G.R. No. 196156) was filed on April 27, 2011.
Records showed that as early as August 3, 2009, G.R. Nos. 187861 and 187778 were consolidated with
G.R. No. 154113 pending with the Third Division. As to the present petition, it was initially denied under
the June 8, 2011 Resolution issued by the Second Division for failure to show any reversible error
committed by the CA. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration to which respondents filed an opposition.
Said motion for reconsideration of the earlier dismissal (June 8, 2011) remained unresolved by the Second
Division which, on June 29, 2011, issued a resolution ordering the transfer of the present case to the Third
Division.
It is further recalled that on June 23, 2011, petitioner moved to consolidate the present case with G.R. Nos.
154113, 187861 and 187778 which was opposed by respondents. Under Resolution dated August 1, 2011,
the Third Division denied the motion for consolidation, citing the earlier dismissal of the petition on June 8,
2011. However, on motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner, said resolution was set aside on October
19, 2011 and the present case was ordered consolidated with G.R. Nos. 154113, 187778 and 187861 and
transferred to the First Division where the latter cases are pending.
On December 7, 2011, the Decision in the consolidated cases (G.R. Nos. 154113, 187778, 187861
and 196156) was rendered, the dispositive portion of which states:
WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari in G.R. No. 187861 is DENIED while the petitions in G.R.
Nos. 154113, 187778 and 196156 are PARTLY GRANTED. The Decision dated October 17, 2008 of the
17

Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 66540 is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS in that MCCHI is
ordered to pay the petitioners in G.R. Nos. 154113 and 187778, except the petitioners who are union
officers, separation pay equivalent to one month pay for every year of service, and reasonable attorney's
fees in the amount of P50,000.00. The Decision dated November 7, 2008 is likewise AFFIRMED with
MODIFICATIONS in that MCCHI is ordered to pay the private respondents in G.R. No. 196156separation
pay equivalent to one month pay for every year of service, and that the award of back wages is DELETED.
The case is hereby remanded to the Executive Labor Arbiter for the recomputation of separation pay due to
each of the petitioners union members in G.R. Nos. 154113, 187778 and 196156 except those who have
executed compromise agreements approved by this Court.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
On February 7, 2012, respondents filed a Motion for Reconsideration with Motion for Severance and
Remand asserting that they were denied due process as they had no opportunity to file a comment on the
petition prior to the rendition of the Decision dated December 7, 2011. They also point out that the issues
in the present case are different from those raised in the petitions filed by their co-complainants.
On June 18, 2012, this Court issued a Resolution (1) reinstating the petition and requiring the respondents
to file their comment on the petition; and (2) denying the motion for remand to the Second
Division. Respondents thus filed their Comment, to which petitioner filed its Reply. Thereafter, the parties
submitted their respective memoranda.
Issues
In their Memorandum, respondents submit that since the Decision dated December 7, 2011 in the
consolidated cases of Abaria v. NLRC have already declared the dismissal of complainants union members
as illegal but awarded separation pay and reasonable attorney's fees, the remaining issue to be resolved in
this case is whether respondents are entitled to back wages and damages.
Petitioner, however, further assail the CA in (a) allowing respondents to change their theory on appeal, (b)
finding that respondents did not commit illegal acts during the strike and (c) increasing the award of
separation pay to one month pay for every year of service as held in the December 7, 2011 Decision in
view of the damages suffered by petitioner.
Respondents' Argument
Respondents maintain that there was no iota of evidence presented by petitioner that they took part in the
illegal strike conducted by the Nava group or committed illegal acts like the blocking of ingress and egress
in the hospital premises. They claim that they were never involved in work stoppage but instead were
locked out by petitioner as they were unable to resume work because hospital security personnel prevented
them from entering the hospital upon petitioner's instructions.
Claiming that they have consistently manifested their non-participation in the illegal strike before the
regional arbitration branch, NLRC and the CA, respondents argue that there is absolutely no reason to
delete the awards of back wages and separation pay in lieu of reinstatement.
Petitioner's Argument
Petitioner contends that respondents have surreptitiously changed their position from admitting in their
pleadings before the NLRC their participation in the illegal strike to that of mere wearing of arm bands and
alleged non-receipt of the notices in their appeal before the CA. They stress the established facts on record
18

that: (1) respondents signed the March 18, 1996 collective reply of the union officers and members to the
notices sent by petitioner regarding their illegal concerted activities, thus proving that they received the
said notices; (2) acknowledged Perla Nava as their union leader which belies respondents' belated attempt
to distance themselves from the Nava group who led the illegal strike; and (3) respondents did not, in their
motion for reconsideration of the NLRC Decision dated March 12, 2003, make any denial of their
participation in the illegal strike but even justified their resort thereto due to the prevailing labor dispute.
With the Decision in the consolidated cases (Abaria v. NLRC) having already upheld the consistent rule that
dismissed employees who participated in an illegal strike are not entitled to back wages, petitioner prays
that the previous rulings in Philippine Diamond Hotel and Resort, Inc. (Manila Diamond Hotel) v. Manila
Diamond Hotel Employees Union, G & S Transport Corporation v. Infante, Philippine Marine Officers' Guild
v. Compaia Maritima, et al., and Escario v. National Labor Relations Commission (Third Division) be
likewise applied in this case.
Our Ruling
The petition is partly meritorious.
Paragraph 3, Article 264 (a) of the Labor Code provides that ". . . [a]ny union officer who knowingly
participates in an illegal strike and any worker or union officer who knowingly participates in the
commission of illegal actsduring a strike may be declared to have lost his employment status . . ."
In the Decision dated December 7, 2011, we declared as invalid the dismissal of MCCH employees who
participated in the illegal strike conducted by NAMA-MCCH-NFL which is not a legitimate labor organization.
Since there was no showing that the complainants committed any illegal act during the strike, they may not
be deemed to have lost their employment status by their mere participation in the illegal strike. On the
other hand, the union leaders (Nava group) who conducted the illegal strike despite knowledge that NAMAMCCH-NFL is not a duly registered labor union were declared to have been validly terminated by petitioner.
We stress that the law makes a distinction between union members and union officers. A worker merely
participating in an illegal strike may not be terminated from employment. It is only when he commits illegal
acts during a strike that he may be declared to have lost employment status. In contrast, a union officer
may be terminated from employment for knowingly participating in an illegal strike or participates in the
commission of illegal acts during a strike. The law grants the employer the option of declaring a union
officer who participated in an illegal strike as having lost his employment. It possesses the right and
prerogative to terminate the union officers from service.
In this case, the NLRC affirmed the finding of the Labor Arbiter that respondents supported and took part in
the illegal strike and further declared that they were guilty of insubordination. It noted that the striking
employees were determined to force management to negotiate with their union and proceeded with the
strike despite knowledge that NAMA-MCCH-NFL is not a legitimate labor organization and without regard to
the consequences of their acts consisting of displaying placards and marching noisily inside the hospital
premises, and blocking the entry of vehicles and persons.
On appeal, the CA reversed the rulings of the Labor Arbiter and NLRC, ordered the reinstatement of
respondents and the payment of their full back wages. The CA found that respondents' participation was
limited to the wearing of armband and thus, citing Bascon v. CA, declared respondents' termination as
invalid in the absence of any evidence that they committed any illegal act during the strike.
In the Decision dated December 7, 2011, we likewise ruled that the mass termination of complainants was
illegal, notwithstanding the illegality of the strike in which they participated. However, since reinstatement
was no longer feasible, we ordered MCCHI to pay the dismissed employees separation pay equivalent to
19

one month pay for every year of service. The claim for back wages was denied, consistent with existing law
and jurisprudence.
Respondents argue that the CA correctly awarded them back wages because while they "supported the
protest action" they were not part of the Nava group who were charged with blocking the free ingress and
egress of the hospital, threatening and harassing persons entering the premises, and making boisterous
and unpleasant remarks. They deny any participation in the illegal strike and assert that no evidence of
their actual participation in the strike was shown by petitioner.
We are not persuaded by respondents' attempt to dissociate themselves from the Nava group who led the
illegal strike. In their motion for reconsideration filed before the NLRC, respondents no longer denied
having participated in the strike but simply argued that no termination of employment in connection with
the strike "staged by complainants" cannot be legally sustained because MCCHI "did not file a complaint or
petition to declare the strike of complainants illegal or declare that illegal acts were committed in the
conduct of the strike." Respondents further assailed the NLRC's finding that they were guilty of
insubordination since "the proximate cause of the acts of complainants was the prevailing labor dispute and
the consequent resort by complainants of [sic] a strike action." When the case was elevated to the CA,
respondents shifted course and again insisted that they did not participate in the strike nor receive the
March 15, 1996 individual notices sent by petitioner to the striking employees.
Respondents' inconsistent posture cannot be sanctioned. While there was indeed no evidence of any illegal
act committed by respondents during the strike, the Labor Arbiter and NLRC were one in finding that
respondents actively supported the concerted protest activities, signed the collective reply of union
members manifesting that they launched the mass actions to protest management's refusal to negotiate a
new CBA, refused to appear in the investigations scheduled by petitioner because it was the union's stand
that they would only attend these investigations as a group, and failed to heed petitioner's final directive for
them to desist from further taking part in the illegal strike. The CA, on the other hand, found that
respondents' participation in the strike was limited to the wearing of armbands. Since an ordinary striking
worker cannot be dismissed for such mere participation in the illegal strike, the CA correctly ruled that
respondents were illegally dismissed. However, the CA erred in awarding respondents full back wages and
ordering their reinstatement despite the prevailing circumstances.
As a general rule, back wages are granted to indemnify a dismissed employee for his loss of earnings
during the whole period that he is out of his job. Considering that an illegally dismissed employee is not
deemed to have left his employment, he is entitled to all the rights and privileges that accrue to him from
the employment. The grant of back wages to him is in furtherance and effectuation of the public objectives
of the Labor Code, and is in the nature of a command to the employer to make a public reparation for his
illegal dismissal of the employee in violation of the Labor Code.
Are respondents then entitled to back wages? This Court, in G & S Transport Corporation v. Infante, ruled
in the negative:
With respect to backwages, the principle of a "fair day's wage for a fair day's labor" remains as the basic
factor in determining the award thereof. If there is no work performed by the employee there can be no
wage or pay unless, of course, the laborer was able, willing and ready to work but was illegally locked out,
suspended or dismissed or otherwise illegally prevented from working. . . . In Philippine Marine Officers'
Guild v. Compaia Maritima, as affirmed in Philippine Diamond Hotel and Resort v. Manila Diamond Hotel
Employees Union, the Court stressed that for this exception to apply, it is required that the strike
be legal, a situation that does not obtain in the case at bar. (Emphasis supplied)
The alternative relief for union members who were dismissed for having participated in an illegal strike is
the payment of separation pay in lieu of reinstatement under the following circumstances: (a) when
20

reinstatement can no longer be effected in view of the passage of a long period of time or because of the
realities of the situation; (b) reinstatement is inimical to the employer's interest; (c) reinstatement is no
longer feasible; (d)reinstatement does not serve the best interests of the parties involved; (e)the employer
is prejudiced by the workers' continued employment; (f) facts that make execution unjust or inequitable
have supervened; or (g) strained relations between the employer and employee.
In the Decision dated December 7, 2011, we held that the grant of separation pay to complainants is the
appropriate relief under the circumstances, thus:
Considering that 15 years had lapsed from the onset of this labor dispute, and in view of strained relations
that ensued, in addition to the reality of replacements already hired by the hospital which had apparently
recovered from its huge losses, and with many of the petitioners either employed elsewhere, already old
and sickly, or otherwise incapacitated, separation pay without back wages is the appropriate relief. . . .
In fine, we sustain the CA in ruling that respondents who are mere union members were illegally dismissed
for participating in the illegal strike conducted by the Nava group. However, we set aside the order for their
reinstatement and payment of full back wages.
WHEREFORE, the petition is PARTLY GRANTED. The Decision dated November 7, 2008 and Resolution
dated February 22, 2011 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 84998 are
hereby AFFIRMED withMODIFICATIONS. In lieu of reinstatement, petitioner Visayas Community Medical
Center (formerly known as the Metro Cebu Community Hospital) is ordered to PAY respondents Erma
Yballe, Evelyn Ong, Nelia Angel and Eleuteria Cortez separation pay equivalent to one month pay for every
year of service. The award of back wages to the said respondents is DELETED.
The case is hereby remanded to the Executive Labor Arbiter for the recomputation of separation pay due to
each of the respondents.
SO ORDERED.
||| (Visayas Community Medical Center v. Yballe, G.R. No. 196156, [January 15, 2014])

Actual Participation in illegal strike necessary to dismiss employees


[G.R. No. 167347. January 31, 2007.]
CHUAYUCO STEEL MANUFACTURING CORPORATION AND/OR EDWIN CHUA, petitioners, vs.
BUKLOD NG MANGGAGAWA SA CHUAYUCO STEEL MANUFACTURING
CORPORATION, respondent.
DECISION
CARPIO-MORALES, J p:
Assailed via petition for review are issuances of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 79330, to wit:
Decision dated October 7, 2004 modifying the decision of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC)
in NLRC CA No. 032475-02, and Resolution dated February 28, 2005 denying petitioners' motion for partial
reconsideration.
Buklod ng Manggagawa sa Chuayuco Steel Manufacturing Corporation (respondent), a legitimate labor
organization, is the recognized bargaining agent of all rank and file employees of petitioner Chuayuco Steel
Manufacturing Corporation (the corporation) of which its co-petitioner Edwin Chua is the President.
21

In a special election of officers conducted by respondent on May 10, 1999, Camilo L. Lenizo (Lenizo)
emerged as president. A copy of the result of the election was served upon the corporation which,
however, refused to recognize the newly elected officers in light of the alleged existence of an intra-union
conflict between the factions of Lenizo and Romeo Ibanez (Ibanez), former acting union president.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Regional Director later issued an order directing the
corporation to recognize the newly elected officers as the authorized representatives of respondent. The
order was upheld by the Bureau of Labor Relations (BLR) by Resolution dated October 16, 2000. Ibanez's
faction sought a reconsideration of the resolution but was denied on March 20, 2001.
In the meantime, as respondent's collective bargaining agreement expired on November 30, 2000, Lenizo's
group submitted collective bargaining proposals which the corporation did not heed.
On January 26, 2001, respondent filed a notice of strike with the National Conciliation Mediation Board
(NCMB) R-IV grounded on unfair labor practice, union interference, refusal to bargain, discrimination and
non-remittance of funds held in trust.
The corporation filed a "Motion to Dismiss" the Notice, arguing that it could not enter into negotiations with
respondent because of an intra-union conflict between the factions of Ibanez and Lenizo.
Ibanez later informed the corporation of his intention to question the above-mentioned BLR's October 16,
2000 decision before the Court of Appeals via petition for certiorari. He in fact filed a petition which was,
however, eventually dismissed by the appellate court.
On April 25, 2001, respondent staged a strike.
On May 9, 2001, the corporation filed before the NLRC a Petition to Declare the Strike Illegal, alleging that,
aside from the fact that it was based on an intra-union dispute, respondent employed unlawful means in
staging the strike including padlocking and putting up several structures and large stones before the gate to
the premises of the corporation, thus preventing free ingress and egress.
On the basis of an ocular inspection report that there was no free ingress to or egress from the corporation
premises, the NLRC issued on May 17, 2001 a temporary restraining order in favor of the corporation. A
writ of preliminary injunction was subsequently issued through Order dated June 11, 2001.
By Decision of April 25, 2002, Labor Arbiter Cresencio G. Ramos, Jr. declared the strike illegal and the
"individual respondents who led and took active parts in the subject concerted mass action . . . as having
consequentially lost their employment status."
The Labor Arbiter's Decision was affirmed by the NLRC by Resolution of February 24, 2003.
The Court of Appeals, to which respondent appealed via certiorari, modified the NLRC Resolution by
Decision of October 7, 2004 by ordering the reinstatement of the therein named union members of
respondent. Thus the appellate court disposed:
WHEREFORE, the April 25, 2002 Decision of the Labor Arbiter declaring the strike illegal is AFFIRMED.
Accordingly, the union officers of Buklod ng Manggagawa Sa Chuayuco Steel Manufacturing
Corporation, namely: Camilo L. Lenizo, Edwin T. Caada, Juanito B. Grutas, Reynaldo L. Bandal, Renato
H. Castro, Herminio R. Villanueva, Reynaldo M. Larazo, Edgardo C. Trinidad, Salvador B. Cario, Rolando S.
Dorado, Roberto C. Larida, Redillon A. Cortez, Eduardo C. Arroyo, Hector A. Trinidad, Rey B. Belardo,
Elpidio S. Razon, and Joel L. Petelo are hereby declared as having lost their employment status.
Private respondent Chuayuco Steel Manufacturing Corporation is ordered to immediately
reinstate Rodolfo P. Maniaol, Warlon J. Jimenez, Glenn M. Miraflores, Emilio G. Lee, Ramil Q. Guerrero,
22

Ronilo A. Adia, Feliciano R. Amalin, Jr., Armando B. Antolin, Carlito C. Arroyo, Eric G. Ayson, Eldy C.
Balbalore, Perlito Bentor, Bernardo N. Caluza, Edgar Q. Dayo, Arnel Q. Fabillar, Roger N. Hecole, Rommel
N. Hecole, Ceferino T. Lopez, Rommel N. Manoguid, Eugenio M. Marinas, Jr., Vicente M. Monsalve, Donaldo
P. Nuyles, Elvis C. Ocampo, Vicente A. Penillos, Erwin L. Regana, Christopher P. Siatriz, Joelito O. Talasik,
Eddie M. Tayco, Salvador Amar, Sonny Magsombol, and Bernardo Baquit to their respective positions
without loss of seniority rights.
SO ORDERED. (Emphasis in the original)
Hence, this petition for review which raises the following issues:
I. WHETHER THE COURT OF APPEALS MAY REVIEW THE FINDINGS MADE BY THE NLRC; AND
II. WHETHER THE THIRTY-ONE (31) MEMBERS OF RESPONDENT WHO JOINED THE STRIKE ARE
ENTITLED TO REINSTATEMENT.
At the outset, it bears emphasis that a petition for review on certiorariunder Rule 45 of the Rules of Court
should raise only questions of law. It is a settled rule that in the exercise of this Court's power of review, it
does not inquire into the sufficiency of the evidence presented, consistent with the rule that this Court is
not a trier of facts. A fortiori, this rule applies in labor cases. As long as the factual findings of quasijudicial agencies are supported by substantial evidence, they are entitled to great respect in light of their
expertise in their respective fields.
Nevertheless, this Court has recognized a number of exceptions to the foregoing rule, including, as
enumerated in The Insular Life Assurance Company, Ltd. v. Court of Appeals, the following:
(1) when the findings are grounded entirely on speculation, surmises or conjectures; (2) when the
inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible; (3) when there is grave abuse of discretion;
(4) when the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts; (5) when the findings of facts are
conflicting; (6) when in making its findings the Court of Appeals went beyond the issues of the case, or its
findings are contrary to the admissions of both the appellant and the appellee; (7) when the findings are
contrary to the trial court; (8) when the findings are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on
which they are based; (9) when the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioner's main and
reply briefs are not disputed by the respondent; (10) when the findings of fact are premised on the

supposed absence of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on record; and (11) when the Court of
Appeals manifestly overlooked certain relevant facts not disputed by the parties, which, if properly
considered, would justify a different conclusion. . . . (Italics in the original; citations omitted)
On the first issue, contrary to the contention of the corporation (hereafter petitioner), it was within the
jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals, whose jurisdiction over labor cases has been expanded to review the
findings of the NLRC. Thus, St. Martin Funeral Home v. NLRC teaches:
. . . [E]ver since appeals from the NLRC to the Supreme Court were eliminated, the legislative intendment
was that the special civil action of certiorari was and still is the proper judicial review of decisions of the
NLRC.
xxx xxx xxx
. . . [W]hile it does not wish to intrude into the congressional sphere on the matter of the wisdom of a law,
on this score we add the further observation that there is a growing number of labor cases being elevated
to the Court, which, not being a trier of facts, has at times been constrained to remand the case to the
NLRC forresolution of unclear or ambiguous factual findings; that the Court of Appeals is
procedurally equipped for that purpose, aside from the increased number of its component divisions;
23

and that there is undeniably an imperative need for expeditious action on labor cases as a major aspect of
constitutional protection to labor.
Therefore all references in the amended Section 9 of B.P No. 129 to supposed appeals from the NLRC to
the Supreme Court are interpreted and hereby declared to mean and refer to petitions forcertiorari under
Rule 65. Consequently, all such petitions should henceforth be initially filed in the Court of Appeals in strict
observance of the doctrine on the hierarchy of courts as the appropriate forum for the relief desired.
(Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Further, when the circumstances so warrant, the Court of Appeals can disregard the factual
findings of the NLRC. While as a rule, factual findings of agencies exercising quasi-judicial
functions such as the NLRC are accorded not only respect but even finality, and that judicial
review of labor cases does not go so far as to evaluate the sufficiency of evidence on which the
labor officials' findings rest; more so when both the labor arbiter and the NLRC share the same
findings, such as in the present case, the Court cannot affirm the decision of the NLRC when
its findings of fact on which the conclusion was based are not supported by substantial
evidence. By substantial evidence, we mean the amount of relevant evidence which a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to justify the conclusion. (Emphasis and underscoring
supplied; citations omitted)
The Court of Appeals, NLRC and Labor Arbiter were in fact unanimous in finding the strike staged by
respondent illegal because of commission of acts proscribed under Article 264 (e) of the Labor Code,
reading:
(e) No person engaged in picketing shall commit any act of violence, coercion or
intimidation or obstruct the free ingress to or egress from the employer's premises for lawful
purposes, or obstruct public thoroughfares. (Emphasis supplied)
Thus the Court of Appeals found in its assailed decision:
Even if the strike is valid because its objective or purpose is lawful the strike may still be declared invalid
where the means employed are illegal. . . . [A]s confirmed by the NLRC representative who conducted an
ocular inspection on May 10, 2001, the petitioner blocked the free ingress and egress of the
private respondent's premises by chaining the main gate, putting structures and placing large
rocks before the gates of the company's premises. While the petitioner may have a well grounded
cause to stage a strike due the private respondent's refusal to bargain, still, they committed illegal acts in
the process of airing their grievances that rendered it illegal. (Emphasis supplied)
Aside from obstructing free ingress to and egress from petitioner's premises, respondent's members also
committed illegal acts which were intended to intimidate and harass petitioner and its non-striking
employees. Consider the following evidence of petitioner which was unrebutted:

Sinumpaang Salaysay dated 13 November 2001 of Garry P. Florendo


xxx xxx xxx
5) Na tinangka namin ng kasama kong guard na sina Norberto Almoguera, Ramon Gordavilla, Errol Ibaez
at Fornela Corsini na pigilan sina Edwin Caada at ang mga nabanggit nitong kasamahan at iba pang
miyembro nila at tanggalin ang mga nakabarikada sa gate ng planta ngunit kami ay pinagbantaan na
pag inalis namin ito ay masasaktan kami at magkakagulo habang may hawak-hawak silang
mga pamalo at bato;

24

6) Na simula Abril 25, 2001 ay hindi ako nakalabas ng chuayuco kasama ang iba pang mga
empleyado ng chuayucona sina Gilberto Zapanta, Menrado Barcelo, Jacinto Ibaez, Rodolfo Barcelo,
Leonoro Manuguid, Florencio Baluga, Salvador Pedraza, Joel Manuguid, Maximo Lerit, Anthony Castro at
ang mga kasamahan kong mga guwardiya na sina Norberto Almoguera, Ramon Gordavilla, Errol Ibaez at
Corsini Fornela; (Emphasis supplied)
xxx xxx xxx

Sama-samang Salaysay dated 27 June 2001 of Eisen Moral, Ramil Tuubeo, Bryan Tabuzo, Dingreo
Batallones
9. Nang mapadaan kami sa picket line ay hinarang kami ng mga strikers sa pangunguna nina Edwin
Caada, Salvador Cario, at Rey Belardo;
10. Na, pasigaw at pabantang sinabi ni Edwin Caada na "Huwag na kayong papasok bukas!";
11. Na ang kasama nilang si Rey Belardo ay nagpunta sa bandang likuran ng tricycle kung saan
nakaupo si Eisen Moral, at bigla na lang itong sinuntok ni Rey Belardo sa may tagiliran;
12. Na tinangka ring sampalin ni Rey Belardo si Ramil Tuibeo ngunit ito ay nasalag niya;
13. Na kung hindi dahil sa tricycle driver na umawat ay maaring nabugbog kaming lahat ng mga
strikers. (Emphasis supplied)
xxx xxx xxx

Sinumpaang Salaysay dated 13 November 2001 of Salvador A. Pedraza


6) Noong Mayo 1, 2001, tinangka naming lumabas nina Jacinto Ibaez at Florencio Baluga sa
likod ng bakod subalit nagalit ang mga strikers at sinabihan kami na mga "sipsip" at "tuta",
hinarang ng mga pamalo at barikada at binantaan na masasaktan kapag lumabas ng
kumpanya nina Edwin Caada, Rommel Manuguid, Feliciano Amalin, Salvador Cario, Rey Belardo, Perlito
Bentor, Warlon Jimenez, Alberto Ais, Rogel Hecole, at iba pa. Kaya hindi na kami nakalabas;
xxx xxx xxx
13) Na noong ika 21 ng Agosto 2001, bandang alas 6 ng umaga nang ako ay papasok sa loob ng kumpaya
[sic] ay hinarang ang aking sasakyan nina Edwin Caada, Eddie Tayco, Joe Talisik, Edgar Trinidad, Rey
Belardo, Edgar Dayo, Rodolfo Maniaol, Jr., Rommel Manuguid, at ilan pa nilang kasamahan at pinilit
pababain ang mga manggagawa na nakasakay sa aking sasakyan;
14) Na pinipilit nilang buksan ang pinto ng aking sasakyan at sinuntok pa ni Joe Talisik ang
kaliwang likurang bahagi ng pinto ng aking sasakyan;
15) Na ako ay pinagsisigawan ni Edwin Caada at Eddie Tayco na bumaba ng aking sasakyan
at ng ako ay bumaba, ako ay sinugod ni Edwin Caada at pilit na tinatadyakan, mabuti na
lamang ay aking nailagan at inawat ito ng isang nakatalagang guwardiya (S/G Corsini Fornela); (Emphasis
supplied)
Even assuming then that the purpose for which the strike was staged was valid, the means employed were
far from legitimate, rendering it illegal.
In cases not falling within the prohibition against strikes, the legality or illegality of a strike depends first,
upon the purpose for which it is maintained, and, second, upon the means employed in carrying it on.
Thus, if the purpose which the laborers intend to accomplish by means of a strike is trivial, unreasonable or
unjust (as in the case of the National Labor Union vs. Philippine Match Co., 70 Phil., 300), or if in carrying
25

on the strike the strikers should commit violence or cause injuries to persons or damage to
property (as in the case of National Labor Union, Inc., vs. Court of Industrial Relations, et al., 68 Phil.,
732) the strike, although not prohibited by injunction, may be declared by the court illegal,
with the adverse consequences to the strikers(Luzon Marine Dept. Union vs. Roldan, 86 Phil., 507).
Where, in carrying out the strike, coercion, force, intimidation, violation with physical injuries, sabotage and
the use of unnecessary and obscene language or epithets were committed by the top officials and members
of the union in an attempt to prevent the other willing laborers to go to work, it was held that "a strike held
under those circumstances cannot be justified in a regime of law for that would encourage abuses and
terrorism and would subvert the very purpose of the law which provides for arbitration and peaceful
settlement of labor disputes" (Liberal Labor vs. Phil. Can, 91 Phil. 72) (Emphasis supplied)
Nevertheless, responsibility for these illegal acts must be on an individual and not collective basis. So Article
264 (a) of the Labor Code directs:
xxx xxx xxx
. . . Any union officer who knowingly participates in an illegal strike and any worker or union officer who
knowingly participates in the commission of illegal acts during a strike may be declared to have lost his
employment status . . .
xxx xxx xxx
Thus, a union officer may be declared to have lost his employment status if he knowingly participates in an
illegal strike, whereas a union member may be similarly faulted if he knowingly participates in the
commission of illegal acts during the strike. Substantial evidence, which is that level of relevant evidence
which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to justify a conclusion, suffices to prove participation in
the commission of illegal acts.
Contrary to the Court of Appeals' finding, the record is replete with evidence identifying the members of
respondent who committed prohibited acts under Article 264 of the Labor Code, viz:

Sinumpaang Salaysay dated 13 November 2001 of Salvador A. Pedraza


3) Na ng aking silipin sa gate ay nakita kong naglalagay na ng mga malalaking bato at kahoy na
inihaharang sa main gate sila Edwin Caada, Warlon Jimenez, Camilo Lenizo, Hector
Trinidad, Rommel Manoguid, Salvador Cario at iba pa nitong kasamahan at naghahanda na rin
sila sa paggawa ng kubol;
xxx xxx xxx
5) Na noong araw na ring iyon, sinubukan tanggalin ng mga guwardiya na sina Gavino Rocafor, Albert
Famini at iba pang mga guwardiya ng Target Security Agency at empleyado ng Chuayuco na sina Andres
Balatero, Ronaldo Letun, Victor Ragais, Dandy Pulido at Manny Bulahan ang mga nakabarikadang
malalaking bato at kahoy sa harapan ng gate ngunit nagbanta sina Edwin Caada, Christopher
Siatriz, Edgar Trinidad, Perlito Bentor at iba pang strikers na kapag pinilit tanggalin ang
barikada ay magkakagulo at magkakasakitan;
6) Noong Mayo 1, 2001, tinangka naming lumabas nina Jacinto Ibaez at Florencio Baluga sa likod ng
bakod subalit nagalit ang mga strikers at sinabihan kami na mga "sipsip" at "tuta", hinarang ng
mga pamalo at barikada at binantaan na masasaktan kapag lumabas ng kumpanya nina Edwin
Caada, Rommel Manuguid, Feliciano Amalin, Salvador Cario, Rey Belardo, Perlito
Bentor,Warlon Jimenez, Alberto Ais, Rogel Hecole, at iba pa. Kaya hindi na kami nakalabas;
26

xxx xxx xxx


11) Na magbuhat ng mabuksan ang kompanya, ang lahat ng nagnanais pumasok sa tungkulin tulad
ko at ibang empleyado katulad nina Eisen Moral, Dingreo Batallones, Ramil Tuiebeo ay tinatakot at
pinipigilan nina Edwin Caada, Eddie Tayco, Rommel Manuguid, Perlito Bentor, Salvador
Cario, Joe Talisik, Edgar Trinidad at iba pang mga strikers;
xxx xxx xxx
13) Na noong ika 21 ng Agosto 2001, bandang alas 6 ng umaga nang ako ay papasok sa loob ng kumpaya
[sic] ay hinarang ang aking sasakyan nina Edwin Caada, Eddie Tayco, Joe Talisik, Edgar
Trinidad, Rey Belardo, Edgar Dayo, Rodolfo Maniaol, Jr., Rommel Manuguid, at ilan pa nilang
kasamahan at pinilit pababain ang mga manggagawa na nakasakay sa aking sasakyan;
14) Na pinipilit nilang buksan ang pinto ng aking sasakyan atsinuntok pa ni Joe Talisik ang kaliwang
likurang bahagi ng pinto ng aking sasakyan;
15) Na ako ay pinagsisigawan ni Edwin Caada at Eddie Tayco na bumaba ng aking sasakyan at ng ako ay
bumaba, ako ay sinugod ni Edwin Caada at pilit na tinatadyakan, mabuti na lamang ay aking nailagan at
inawat ito ng isang nakatalagang guwardiya (S/G Corsini Fornela);
xxx xxx xxx (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Sinumpaang Salaysay dated 13 November 2001 of Garry P. Florendo


4) Pagkatapos noon ay sinarhan nina Edwin Caada[,] Hector Trinidad, Eddie Tayco, Warlon
Jimenez, Bernard Caluza, Armando Antolin, Dondon Noilez, Christopher Siatriz at iba pang
kasamahan nila ang gate at nilagyan na ng mga barikadang malalaking bato at kahoy ang
harap ng gate at naglagay na rin sila ng kubol sa harap at likod ng chuayuco;
5) Na tinangka namin ng kasama kong guard na sina Norberto Almoguera, Ramon Gordavilla, Errol Ibaez
at Fornela Corsini na pigilan sina Edwin Caada at ang mga nabanggit nitong kasamahan at iba pang
miyembro nila at tanggalin ang mga nakabarikada sa gate ng planta ngunit kami ay pinagbantaan na
pag inalis naming ito ay masasaktan kami at magkakagulo habang may hawak-hawak silang
mga pamalo at bato;
xxx xxx xxx (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Clearly, the following members of respondent were shown to have participated in the commission of illegal
acts, hence, deemed to have lost their employment status: Warlon Jimenez, Rommel Manuguid,
Christopher Siatriz, Perlito Bentor, Feliciano Amalin, Roger Hecole, Eddie Tayco, Joelito Talisik, Edgar Dayo,
Rodolfo Maniaol, Jr., Bernardo Caluza, and Armando Antolin.
In any event, except for Rommel Manuguid and Feliciano Amalin, the employees named in the immediately
preceding paragraph had tendered their resignation, along with Glenn M. Miraflores, Emilio G. Lee, Ramil Q.
Guerrero, Carlito C. Arroyo, Eric G. Ayson, Eldy C. Balbalore, Rommel N. Hecole, Ceferino T. Lopez, Vicente
M. Monsalve, Donaldo P. Nuyles, Elvis C. Ocampo, and Erwin L. Regana.
In light of petitioner's manifestation and admission that Salvador Amar, Sonny Magsombol and Bernardo
Baquit did not join the strike and have remained employed with it, the order for their reinstatement is
improper, hence, must be deleted.
Only Ronilo A. Adia, Arnel Q. Fabillar, Eugenio M. Marinas, Jr., and Vicente A. Penillos then must be
reinstated.
27

IN FINE, the assailed Decision dated October 7, 2004 and Resolution dated February 28, 2005 issued by
the Court of Appeals are Affirmed withModification.
WHEREFORE, the petition is in part GRANTED.
The strike staged by respondent, Buklod ng Manggagawa sa Chuayuko Steel Manufacturing Corporation, is
declared illegal.
The following officers and members of respondent, namely: Camilo L. Lenizo, Edwin T. Caada, Juanito B.
Grutas, Reynaldo L. Bandal, Renato H. Castro, Herminio R. Villanueva, Reynaldo M. Larazo, Edgardo C.
Trinidad, Salvador B. Cario, Rolando S. Dorado, Robetro C. Larida, Redillon A. Cortez, Eduardo C. Arroyo,
Hector A. Trinidad, Rey B. Belardo, Elpidio S. Razon, and Joel L. Petelo, Warlon Jimenez, Rommel
Manuguid, Christopher Siatriz, Perlito Bentor, Feliciano Amalin, Roger Hecole, Eddie Tayco, Joelito Talisik,
Edgar Dayo, Rodolfo Maniaol, Jr., Bernardo Caluza, and Armando Antolin are declared to have lost their
employment status.
Petitioner Chuayuco Steel Manufacturing Corporation is ordered to immediately reinstate only Ronilo A.
Adia, Arnel Q. Fabillar, Eugenio M. Marinas, Jr., and Vicente A. Penillos to their respective positions without
loss of seniority rights.
SO ORDERED.
||| (Chuayuco Steel Manufacturing Corp. v. Buklod ng Manggagawa sa Chuayuco Steel Manufacturing

Corp., G.R. No. 167347, [January 31, 2007], 542 PHIL 618-634)

Nature of the Notice of Return to work order


[G.R. No. 154591. March 5, 2007.]
MANILA HOTEL EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION and its members, petitioners, vs. MANILA HOTEL
CORPORATION,respondent.
DECISION
CHICO-NAZARIO, J p:
This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, assailing the Decision, dated
31 October 2001, promulgated by the Court of Appeals, affirming the Decision of the National Labor
Relations Commission (NLRC), dated 5 April 2000, declaring that the strike held by the petitioner Manila
Hotel Employees Association (MHEA), herein represented by Ferdinand Barles, is illegal. The Court of
Appeals, in its assailed Decision, modified the Decision rendered by the NLRC and ruled that both
incumbent officers and members of MHEA involved in the illegal strike lost their employment status.
On 11 November 1999, the MHEA filed a Notice of Strike with the National Conciliation and Mediation Board
(NCMB) in its National Capital Region office against Manila Hotel on the grounds of unfair labor
practices. Upon the petition of Manila Hotel, the Secretary of Labor and Employment (SOLE) certified the
labor dispute to the NLRC for compulsory arbitration pursuant to Article 263(g) of the Labor Code on 24
November 1999. Specifically, the Order enjoined any strike or lockout and the parties were ordered to
cease and desist from committing any acts that may exacerbate the situation. The parties and their
counsels were served copies of the said Order. MHEA filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated 29 November
1999 assailing the validity of said Order.

28

The case was set for mandatory conference on 8 February 2000 before Presiding Commissioner Rogelio I.
Rayala. During the conference, the parties were advised of the certification order, which prohibited them
from taking any action that would exacerbate the situation. At the instance of the MHEA officers, the
hearing of the case was reset to 29 February 2000 due to the absence of the counsel for MHEA.
On 10 February 2000, the MHEA conducted a strike despite the clear terms of the Order issued by the SOLE
on 24 November 1999, and despite the repeated reminders thereof. On the same day, Commissioner
Rayala called for a mandatory conference. Thereafter, several conferences were conducted by the NLRC,
wherein both parties were warned against aggravating the already volatile situation. During its hearing on 8
March 2000, the NLRC sought to have both parties identify the issues and stipulate the facts, despite their
reluctance. It also allowed the parties sufficient time to file their position papers, with which both parties
failed to comply.
After the strike was conducted, both parties filed various motions and pleadings before the NLRC. Manila
Hotel filed a complaint with Prayer for Injunction and/or Temporary Restraining Order on 11 February 2000,
alleging that MHEA conducted an illegal strike, blocked all ingress and egress of the hotel premises,
harassed and intimidated company officers, non-striking employees, customers and suppliers. In addition, it
sought a declaration that the strike was illegal and that, consequently, the striking employees lost their
employment.
The NLRC issued an Order dated 11 February 2000 directing the striking workers to return to work
immediately and the hotel to accept them back under the same terms and conditions of employment. The
NLRC further instructed the parties to submit proof of compliance with the instant order immediately after
the lapse of twenty-four hours. The parties, through their counsels, received the said Order before 4:00
pm of the same day. In their Urgent Manifestation and Motion to Set Aside Order dated 14 February 2000,
and Motion for Reconsideration dated 11 April 2000, MHEA admitted that a copy of the order was served on
the picket lines at 5:00 pm of 11 February 2000.
The NLRC received a copy of the Compliance filed by Manila Hotel on 14 February 2000, manifesting that
only six striking employees complied with the return-to-work Order and were reinstated. The other striking
employees had openly defied the said Order.
In response to the NLRC's return-to-work order, dated 11 February 2000, the MHEA filed an Urgent
Manifestation and Motion to Set Aside Order on 14 February 2000. It alleged that the Motion for
Reconsideration, dated 29 November 1999, questioning the validity of the Order of the SOLE, dated 24
November 1999, which certified the case to the NLRC, was still pending with the SOLE. The said motion
had prevented the said Order of the SOLE from becoming final and executory. Thus, it alleged that the
NLRC had not acquired jurisdiction over the labor dispute pending the resolution of the Motion for
Reconsideration filed before the SOLE. On 17 February 2000, the NLRC denied MHEA's Urgent
Manifestation and Motion to Set Aside Order.
The NLRC also issued another Order on 17 February 2000, ordering MHEA to refrain from putting up a
blockade or barricade or any mode of preventing the free ingress to and egress from the hotel.
Parenthetically, it also ordered Manila Hotel to respect the right of the striking workers to peacefully picket
in a designated area outside the hotel. Manila Hotel moved for the Reconsideration of the said Order on
the ground that the picket, which they were ordered to respect, was an unlawful activity.
Pending the resolution of its motion, MHEA filed a Motion to Inhibit, dated 10 March 2000, seeking to inhibit
Commissioner Rayala, who voluntarily inhibited himself. Likewise, the MHEA, through a Supplemental
Motion, dated 22 March 2000, sought the inhibition of all the members of the First Division of the
NLRC. Commissioner Veloso also voluntarily inhibited himself. On 31 March 2000, the case was re-raffled
29

to the members of the Second and Third Divisions. The Commissioners thus convened and agreed to
resolve the case per curiam.
In the Decision promulgated on 5 April 2000, the NLRC ruled that the 10 February 2000 strike held by
MHEA was illegal for its defiance of the return-to-work order. However, it determined that only the union
officers were deemed to have lost their employment. It ruled that there was no evidence showing who
among the striking employees were actually notified of the return-to-work order, and therefore, such
employees have not forfeited their employment. But in view of the antagonism on both sides, the NLRC
awarded a severance pay equivalent to one-month salary to the returning union members for every year of
service, instead of ordering Manila Hotel to reinstate them. In the dispositive part of the Decision, the
NLRC decreed that:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the strike is declared illegal. Accordingly, the incumbent officers of the
union are declared to have forfeited their employment status. Further, no relief may be granted the union
with respect to their demands, in view of the absence of a decision thereon by a Voluntary Arbitrator.
In lieu of an order for the Hotel and members of the union to maintain their respective status previous to
the strike, Manila Hotel, Inc. is hereby ORDERED to pay the returning union members, as an alternative
relief to continued employment, severance compensation in an amount equivalent to one (1) month salary
for every year of service, a fraction thereof, being considered as one whole year. No entitlement to
backwages is however decreed, pursuant to the no-work-no-pay principle in strike cases.
Both parties filed their respective Motions for Reconsideration. Manila Hotel filed a Motion for Partial
Reconsideration which sought the deletion of the award of severance compensation to the union members
who participated in the illegal strike. MHEA, on the other hand, sought the reversal of the Decision on the
ground that the NLRC had no jurisdiction over the case and that they were deprived of due process. The
NLRC denied both motions in a Resolution dated 17 May 2000.
On 6 July 2000, Manila Hotel filed a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 before the Court of Appeals to
assail the Decision dated 5 April 2000, and the Resolution dated 17 May 2000, both issued by the NLRC. In
a Decision dated 31 October 2001, the Court of Appeals granted the petition, to wit:
WHEREFORE, finding merit in the petition, the same is GRANTED. The assailed Decision is MODIFIED in
that both the incumbent officers and members of the Union involved in the illegal strike are declared to
have lost their employment status. The award of severance compensation to the striking members of the
union is consequently DELETED.
On 26 November 2001, MHEA filed a Motion for Reconsideration, which the Court of Appeals denied in a
Resolution, dated 1 August 2002.
MHEA filed a petition for review on certiorari before this Court questioning the assailed decision of the Court
of Appeals dated 31 October 2000. Thereafter, the Court ordered MHEA to submit proof that the
Chairman/President of MHEA, Fernando Barles, had been duly authorized to sign the verification of the
petition and certification of forum shopping. In compliance thereof, MHEA submitted eight (8) special
powers of attorney (SPAs) executed by 138 union members authorizing Atty. Potenciano Flores and
Ferdinand Barles to represent them in the caseManila Hotel Employees Association v. NLRC, CA-G.R. S.P
No. 59601. Manila Hotel sought the dismissal of the present petition on the ground that petitioner
Ferdinand Barles was not authorized to file it. Manila Hotel alleged that Barles was no longer the Chairman
of MHEA and attached a certification dated 5 March 2003 of the union Secretary General, stating that
Eduardo M. Saplan was the Chairman of the union, and that he succeeded Antonio Dumpit who held the
position of Chairman from 5 July 2000 to 19 December 2002. It further alleged that the SPAs attached to
the Compliance authorizing Barles and Potenciano to represent the union pertained to a different case, and
30

not the present case. MHEA, however, insisted that it was the same case since it involved the same
parties, facts, and issues.
In the present petition, MHEA raises the following issues:
I
WITH DUE RESPECT, THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS AND THE RESPONDENT COMMISSION HAD
ACTED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AND THEY HAD COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERRORS IN THEIR
QUESTIONED DECISIONS AND RESOLUTIONS WHEN, OBVIOUSLY, BY LAW AND SETTLED
JURISPRUDENCE, THE INDIVIDUAL PETITIONERS, WHO ARE MERE ORDINARY MEMBERS OF THE UNION,
ARE ENTITLED TO BE REINSTATED BACK (sic) TO WORK WITHOUT LOSS OF SENIORITY OR OTHER
EMPLOYEES' RIGHTS AND BENEFITS AND WITH FULL BACKWAGES FROM DATE OF DISMISSAL UNTIL
ACTUAL REINSTATEMENT.
II
WITH DUE RESPECT, THE COURT BELOW AND THE RESPONDENT COMMISSION HAD COMMITTED
REVERSIBLE ERROR IN APPLYING THE DOCTRINE OF STRAINED RELATIONSHIP IN THE CASE AT BAR.
This petition is devoid of merit.
Before discussing the substantial issues of this case, this Court takes notice of a serious procedural flaw.
Ferdinand Barles is not authorized to sign the verification and certification of non-forum shopping in the
present case. The General Membership Resolution, dated 23 December 1998, affirmed that he was
appointed as the Chairman of MHEA, in place of Gonzalo Irabon. Nevertheless, Barles failed to refute the
facts that were ascertained by the certification of the secretary-general of MHEA: that at the time this
petition was filed on 26 September 2002, and even at the time the petition was filed before the Court of
Appeals by Manila Hotel on 10 July 2000, Ferdinand Barles was no longer the Chairman of MHEA. The
certification clearly stated that Antonio Dumpit was the union Chairman from 5 July 2000 to 19 December
2000, and that he was succeeded by Eduardo Saplan. Moreover, the SPAs that were submitted to the Court
in order to prove that Barles was authorized to sign the verification and certification of non-forum shopping
in this case failed to establish that crucial fact. The SPAs had in fact authorized Barles to represent the 138
members who signed the SPA to represent them in a different case, Manila Hotel Employees Association v.
National Labor Relations Commission, CA-G.R. S.P No. 59601, which was raised on appeal before the
Supreme Court under G.R. No. 144879. The MHEA's assertion that there were the same parties and issues
involved in the two cases is self-defeating, not only because these are clearly two distinct cases, but
because such will likewise violate the rule against non-forum shopping.
The provisions of Supreme Court Circular Nos. 28-91 and 04-94 require a Certification of Non-Forum
Shopping in any initiatory pleading filed before the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals. In the case
of Teoville Homeowner's Association v. Ferreira, the Court emphatically underscored the need to show to
the satisfaction of the Court that the person signing the verification and certification against non-forum
shopping had been specifically authorized to do so. In other similar cases, it has been ruled that it is the
party-pleader, and not the counsel, who must execute the certificate against forum shopping. The rationale
for the rule is that the counsel may be unaware of any similar actions pending with other courts on the
same matter. In this case, Ferdinand Barles was no longer an officer of the union at the time this petition
was filed, and therefore was no longer privy to the cases that may have been filed by MHEA. Absent the
specific authorization from the MHEA members that he sought to represent, any statement he may make
cannot bind the MHEA herein named. For the foregoing reasons alone, this petition should be dismissed.
Aside from its procedural defects, the petition is also substantially infirm. MHEA members seek their
reinstatement after participating in an illegal strike, that is, a strike that was conducted after receiving an
31

Order of assumption by the SOLE certifying the dispute to the NLRC for compulsory arbitration. Worse still,
the strikers failed to comply with the 11 February 2000 return-to-work Order, issued by the NLRC, despite
receipt thereof. The law explicitly prohibits such acts.
ART. 263. STRIKES, PICKETING, AND LOCKOUTS
xxx xxx xxx
(g) When, in his opinion there exists a labor dispute causing or likely to cause a strike or lockout in an
industry indispensable to the national interest, the Secretary of Labor and Employment may assume
jurisdiction over the dispute and decide it or certify the same to the Commission for compulsory arbitration.
Such assumption or certification shall have the effect of automatically enjoining the intended or impending
strike or lockout as specified in the assumption or certification order. If one has already taken place at the
time of the assumption or certification, all striking or locked out employees shall immediately return to work
and the employer shall immediately resume operations and readmit all workers under the same terms and
conditions prevailing before the strike or lockout. The Secretary of Labor and Employment or the
Commission may seek the assistance of law enforcement agencies to ensure compliance with this provision
as well as with such orders as he may issue to enforce the same.
ART. 264. PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES
(a) . . .
No strike or lockout shall be declared after assumption of jurisdiction by the President or the Minister or
after certification or submission of the dispute to compulsory or voluntary arbitration or during the
pendency of cases involving the same grounds for the strike or lockout.
More to the point, the Court has consistently ruled in a long line of cases spanning several decades that
once the SOLE assumes jurisdiction over a labor dispute, such jurisdiction should not be interfered with by
the application of the coercive processes of a strike or lockout. Defiance of the assumption order or a
return-to work order by a striking employee, whether a union officer or a member, is an illegal act and,
therefore, a valid ground for loss of employment status.
The assumption of jurisdiction by the SOLE over labor disputes causing or likely to cause a strike or lockout
in an industry indispensable to the national interest is in the nature of a police power measure. In this
case, the SOLE sufficiently justified the assumption order, thus:
The Hotel is engaged in the hotel and restaurant business and one of the de luxe hotels operating in Metro
Manila catering mostly to foreign tourist groups and businessmen. It serves as venue for local and
international conventions and conferences. The Hotel provides employment to more than 700 employees as
well as conducts business with entities dependent on its continued operation. It also provides substantial
contribution to the government coffers in the form of foreign exchange earnings and tax payments.
Undoubtedly, a work stoppage thereat will adversely affect the Hotel, its employees, the industry, and the
economy as a whole.
At this critical time when efforts of the present administration are seriously focused on preserving the
economic gains achieved and ensuring that existing jobs are maintained, it is the utmost concern of this
Office to avoid work disruption that might result to the firm's closure particularly so when an alternative
mechanism obtains to resolve the parties' differences.
The allegation that the strikers relied on their honest belief that the filing of a Motion for Reconsideration
of the Order, issued by the SOLE on 24 November 1999, entitled them to participate in a strike, cannot be
sustained. In the case of St. Scholastica's College v. Torres, the Court reiterated the rule that a return-to32

work order is immediately executory notwithstanding the filing of a motion for reconsideration. It must be
strictly complied with even during the pendency of any petition questioning its validity. Citing the
case Philippine Airlines Employees' Association v. Philippine Airlines, Inc., it accounted for the rationale of
this rule, as thus:
The very nature of a return-to-work order issued in a certified case lends itself to no other construction.
The certification attests to the urgency of the matter, affecting as it does an industry indispensable to the
national interest. The order is issued in the exercise of the court's compulsory power of arbitration, and
therefore must be obeyed until set aside. To say that its [return-to-work order] effectivity must await
affirmance on a motion for reconsideration is not only to emasculate it but indeed to defeat its import, for
by then the deadline fixed for the return to work would, in the ordinary course, have already passed and
hence can no longer be affirmed insofar as the time element it concerned.
Returning to work in this situation is not a matter of option or voluntariness but of obligation. The worker
must return to his job together with his co-workers so the operations of the company can be resumed and
it can continue serving the public and promoting its interest. This extraordinary authority given to the
Secretary of Labor is aimed at arriving at a peaceful and speedy solution to labor disputes, without
jeopardizing national interests. Regardless therefore of their motives, or the validity of their claims, the
striking workers must cease and/or desist from any and all acts that tend to, or undermine this authority of
the Secretary of Labor, once an assumption and/or certification order is issued. They cannot, for instance,
ignore return-to-work orders, citing unfair labor practices on the part of the company, to justify their
action.
MHEA claims that the Court should consider as a mitigating circumstance the fact that they held the strike
three months after filing their notice of strike. Such detail is irrelevant. What is crucial is that they were
apprised of the assumption order of the SOLE wherein they were enjoined from carrying out a strike. They
were again reminded to refrain from conducting a strike during the mandatory conference on 8 February
2000. Pending the proceedings for compulsory arbitration and for no apparent reason, they staged the
strike two days later and refused to obey the return-to-work order issued on 11 February 2000. In the case
of Grand Boulevard Hotel v. Genuine Labor Organization of Workers in Hotel, Restaurant and Allied
Industries (GLOWHRAIN), the Court cautioned against the unreasonable and indiscriminate exercise of the
right to strike:
[T]he decision to wield the weapon of strike must therefore rest on a rational basis, free from
emotionalism, unswayed by the tempers and tantrums of a few hotheads, and firmly focused on the
legitimate interest of the union which should not however be antithetical to the public welfare. In every
strike staged by a union, the general peace and progress of society and public welfare are involved. . . . .
MHEA alleges that the union members were not served a copy of the assumption order issued by
SOLE. Such allegation is absurd considering that MHEA repeatedly alluded in its Motion for Reconsideration
dated 29 November 1999 to the assumption order, which they now deny having received. The records also
state that petitioners and their counsels received a copy of the order on 24 November 1999 and 26
November 1999, respectively. On 8 February 2000, two days before the strike was undertaken, MHEA
officers had attended a mandatory conference before the NLRC wherein they were advised not to take any
action to exacerbate the situation. They had even moved for the postponement of the hearing to 29
February 2000 due to the absence of their counsel. It is only too obvious that MHEA conducted the 10
February 2000 strike knowing fully that an assumption order had been issued.
They, likewise, imply that they were not served a copy of the return-to-work order. Such allegation loses
credence because MHEA, in its Urgent Manifestation and Motion to Set Aside Order dated 14 February
2000, and Motion for Reconsideration dated 11 April 2000, admitted that a copy of the return-to-work order
33

was served on the picket lines. Records show that their counsel was likewise served a copy thereof during
the 11 February 2000 conference and that he refused to acknowledge receipt. During the 16 February
2000 conference, MHEA's counsel stated that the reason that some of the strikers were unable to return to
work was the fact that the picket lines were violently dispersed a few hours after the twenty-four hour
period expired. This implies that during the twenty-four hour period that they were allowed to be fully
reinstated, they failed to report to work.
MHEA cannot lean on the doctrine in the case of PNOC Dockyard and Engineering Corporation v. National
Labor Relations Commission. The Court, in the aforecited case, ruled that there was no valid service of the
certification order which prohibited any strike or lockout since the said order was served on the guard on
duty instead of the president of the union who was authorized to receive the same. As a result, the strike
undertaken after the issuance of the said order was considered legal, hence cannot effectively terminate
the employment of workers who joined the strike. In the present case, not only were the union officers
apprised of the order, a copy of the same was served on the picket lines.
MHEA, likewise, assails the Decision of the NLRC for having been determined without conducting any
preliminary hearings nor requiring the submission of position papers. Again, the records belie these
statements. During the mandatory conference held on 8 March 2000, the parties had in fact identified the
issues and made stipulations of facts. During the same hearing, the Presiding Commissioner required both
parties to file their position papers. The parties, however, failed to present evidence or file the position
papers after they had been given ample opportunity to do so.
MHEA propounds the theory that both parties had acted in pari delictoand, therefore, the dismissal of its
members who participated in the illegal strike, was unwarranted, citing as its precedents Philippine Airlines
Inc. v. Brillantes and Philippines Interfashion Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission. In both cases,
the undisputed finding that the employer was guilty of an illegal lockout while the union conducted an
illegal strike, caused the Court to order the reinstatement of the employees who participated in the illegal
strike. In Philippine Airlines Inc. v. Brillantes, the Court emphasized the unequivocal rule that participating
in a strike undertaken in defiance of the order of the SOLE results in the loss of employment status. It only
made an exception of the said case because the records clearly established that the employer, Philippine
Airlines, Inc., terminated the employment of 183 union officers and members, in violation of the order
issued by the SOLE. In Philippines Interfashion Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission, the return-towork order was not issued pursuant to an assumption or certification order. More importantly, the
employees complied with the return-to-work order and reported back for work within one day after
receiving the same. Despite such compliance, the employer refused to reinstate 114 employees, and, thus,
such refusal on the part of the employer amounted to an illegal lockout.
In the present case, nothing in the records shows that Manila Hotel was guilty of an illegal lockout. It
readmitted the six (6) employees who complied with the return-to-work order. MHEA made a vague
reference to striking employees who complied with the return-to-work order, but were nevertheless refused
re-admittance by Manila Hotel. However, they failed to even identify these employees. There is no
allegation that MHEA filed any case for illegal lock-out against Manila Hotel. What is clearly shown by the
records is that the strike or picketing was still being conducted on 28 February 2000, way after the 24-hour
deadline set by the NLRC. Thus, it is obvious that applying the in pari delicto doctrine pronounced
in Philippine Airlines Inc. v. Brillantes and Philippines Interfashion Inc. v. National Labor Relations
Commission to this case would be improper and without basis.
It would not be amiss to reiterate the Court's pronouncement in the caseReliance Surety & Insurance Co.,
Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission:

34

As a general rule, the sympathy of the Court is on the side of the laboring classes, not only because the
Constitution imposes sympathy but because of the one-sided relation between labor and capital. The Court
must take care, however, that in the contest between labor and capital, the results achieved are fair and in
conformity with the rules. . . . .
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the instant Petition is DENIED. This Court AFFIRMS the assailed Decision of
the Court of Appeals, promulgated on 31 October 2001, declaring the strike conducted by the MHEA on 10
February 1999 as illegal and, thus, resulting in the loss of employment status of the union officers and
members who participated in the said strike. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
||| (Manila Employees Association v. Manila Hotel Corporation, G.R. No. 154591, [March 5, 2007])

Payroll reinstatement in lieu of actual reinstatement upon assumption of jurisdiction


[G.R. No. 163942. November 11, 2008.]
NATIONAL UNION OF WORKERS IN THE HOTEL RESTAURANT AND ALLIED INDUSTRIES
(NUWHRAIN-APL-IUF) DUSIT HOTEL NIKKO CHAPTER, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT
OF APPEALS (Former Eighth Division), THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION
(NLRC), PHILIPPINE HOTELIERS INC., owner and operator of DUSIT HOTEL NIKKO and/or
CHIYUKI FUJIMOTO, and ESPERANZA V. ALVEZ, respondents.
[G.R. No. 166295. November 11, 2008.]
NUWHRAIN-DUSIT HOTEL NIKKO CHAPTER, petitioner, vs. SECRETARY OF LABOR AND
EMPLOYMENT and PHILIPPINE HOTELIERS, INC., respondents.
DECISION
VELASCO, JR., J p:
In G.R. No. 163942, the Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the National Union of Workers in
the Hotel Restaurant and Allied Industries Dusit Hotel Nikko Chapter (Union) seeks to set aside the January
19, 2004 Decision and June 1, 2004 Resolution of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 76568
which affirmed the October 9, 2002 Decision of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) in NLRC
NCR CC No. 000215-02.
In G.R. No. 166295, the Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Union seeks to nullify the May 6, 2004
Decision and November 25, 2004 Resolution of the CA in CA-G.R. SP No. 70778 which affirmed the
January 31, 2002 and March 15, 2002 Orders of the Secretary of Labor and Employment, Patricia A. Sto.
Tomas (Secretary).
Evolution of the Present Petitions
The Union is the certified bargaining agent of the regular rank-and-file employees of Dusit Hotel Nikko
(Hotel), a five star service establishment owned and operated by Philippine Hoteliers, Inc. located in Makati
City. Chiyuki Fuijimoto and Esperanza V. Alvez are impleaded in their official capacities as the Hotel's
General Manager and Director of Human Resources, respectively.
On October 24, 2000, the Union submitted its Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiation proposals
to the Hotel. As negotiations ensued, the parties failed to arrive at mutually acceptable terms and
conditions. Due to the bargaining deadlock, the Union, on December 20, 2001, filed a Notice of Strike on
35

the ground of the bargaining deadlock with the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB), which
was docketed as NCMB-NCR-NS-12-369-01. Thereafter, conciliation hearings were conducted which proved
unsuccessful. Consequently, a Strike Vote was conducted by the Union on January 14, 2002 on which it
was decided that the Union would wage a strike.
Soon thereafter, in the afternoon of January 17, 2002, the Union held a general assembly at its office
located in the Hotel's basement, where some members sported closely cropped hair or cleanly shaven
heads. The next day, or on January 18, 2002, more male Union members came to work sporting the same
hair style. The Hotel prevented these workers from entering the premises claiming that they violated the
Hotel's Grooming Standards.
In view of the Hotel's action, the Union staged a picket outside the Hotel premises. Later, other workers
were also prevented from entering the Hotel causing them to join the picket. For this reason the Hotel
experienced a severe lack of manpower which forced them to temporarily cease operations in three
restaurants.
Subsequently, on January 20, 2002, the Hotel issued notices to Union members, preventively suspending
them and charging them with the following offenses: (1) violation of the duty to bargain in good faith; (2)
illegal picket; (3) unfair labor practice; (4) violation of the Hotel's Grooming Standards; (5) illegal strike;
and (6) commission of illegal acts during the illegal strike. The next day, the Union filed with the NCMB a
second Notice of Strike on the ground of unfair labor practice and violation of Article 248 (a) of the Labor
Code on illegal lockout, which was docketed as NCMB-NCR-NS-01-019-02. In the meantime, the Union
officers and members submitted their explanations to the charges alleged by the Hotel, while they
continued to stage a picket just inside the Hotel's compound.
On January 26, 2002, the Hotel terminated the services of twenty-nine (29) Union officers and sixty-one
(61) members; and suspended eighty-one (81) employees for 30 days, forty-eight (48) employees for 15
days, four (4) employees for 10 days, and three (3) employees for five days. On the same day, the Union
declared a strike. Starting that day, the Union engaged in picketing the premises of the Hotel. During the
picket, the Union officials and members unlawfully blocked the ingress and egress of the Hotel premises.
Consequently, on January 31, 2002, the Union filed its third Notice of Strike with the NCMB which was
docketed as NCMB-NCR-NS-01-050-02, this time on the ground of unfair labor practice and union-busting.
On the same day, the Secretary, through her January 31, 2002 Order, assumed jurisdiction over the labor
dispute and certified the case to the NLRC for compulsory arbitration, which was docketed as NLRC NCR CC
No. 000215-02. The Secretary's Order partly reads:
WHEREFORE, in order to have a complete determination of the bargaining deadlock and the other incidents
of the dispute, this Office hereby consolidates the two Notices of Strike NCMB-NCR-NS-12-369-01 and
NCMB-NCR-NS-01-019-02 and CERTIFIES the entire labor dispute covered by these Notices and the
intervening events, to the NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION for compulsory arbitration pursuant
to Article 263 (g) of the Labor Code, as amended, under the following terms:
xxx xxx xxx
d. the Hotel is given the option, in lieu of actual reinstatement, to merely reinstate the dismissed or
suspended workers in the payroll in light of the special circumstances attendant to their reinstatement;
xxx xxx xxx
SO ORDERED. (Emphasis added.)

36

Pursuant to the Secretary's Order, the Hotel, on February 1, 2002, issued an Inter-Office
Memorandum, directing some of the employees to return to work, while advising others not to do so, as
they were placed under payroll reinstatement.
Unhappy with the Secretary's January 31, 2002 Order, the Union moved for reconsideration, but the same
was denied per the Secretary's subsequent March 15, 2002 Order. Affronted by the Secretary's January 31,
2002 and March 15, 2002 Orders, the Union filed a Petition for Certiorari with the CA which was docketed
as CA-G.R. SP No. 70778.
Meanwhile, after due proceedings, the NLRC issued its October 9, 2002 Decision in NLRC NCR CC No.
000215-02, in which it ordered the Hotel and the Union to execute a CBA within 30 days from the receipt of
the decision. The NLRC also held that the January 18, 2002 concerted action was an illegal strike in which
illegal acts were committed by the Union; and that the strike violated the "No Strike, No Lockout" provision
of the CBA, which thereby caused the dismissal of 29 Union officers and 61 Union members. The NLRC
ordered the Hotel to grant the 61 dismissed Union members financial assistance in the amount of 1/2
month's pay for every year of service or their retirement benefits under their retirement plan whichever was
higher. The NLRC explained that the strike which occurred on January 18, 2002 was illegal because it failed
to comply with the mandatory 30-day cooling-off period and the seven-day strike ban, as the strike
occurred only 29 days after the submission of the notice of strike on December 20, 2001 and only four days
after the submission of the strike vote on January 14, 2002. The NLRC also ruled that even if the Union had
complied with the temporal requirements mandated by law, the strike would nonetheless be declared illegal
because it was attended by illegal acts committed by the Union officers and members.
The Union then filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the NLRC's Decision which was denied in the February
7, 2003 NLRC Resolution. Unfazed, the Union filed a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 with the CA,
docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 76568, and assailed both the October 9, 2002 Decision and the February 7,
2003 Resolution of the NLRC.
Soon thereafter, the CA promulgated its January 19, 2004 Decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 76568 which
dismissed the Union's petition and affirmed the rulings of the NLRC. The CA ratiocinated that the Union
failed to demonstrate that the NLRC committed grave abuse of discretion and capriciously exercised its
judgment or exercised its power in an arbitrary and despotic manner.
For this reason, the Union filed a Motion for Reconsideration which the CA, in its June 1, 2004 Resolution,
denied for lack of merit.
In the meantime, the CA promulgated its May 6, 2004 Decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 70778 which denied due
course to and consequently dismissed the Union's petition. The Union moved to reconsider the Decision,
but the CA was unconvinced and denied the motion for reconsideration in its November 25, 2004
Resolution.
Thus, the Union filed the present petitions.
The Union raises several interwoven issues in G.R. No. 163942, most eminent of which is whether the
Union conducted an illegal strike. The issues presented for resolution are:
-AWHETHER OR NOT THE UNION, THE 29 UNION OFFICERS AND 61 MEMBERS MAY BE ADJUDGED GUILTY
OF STAGING AN ILLEGAL STRIKE ON JANUARY 18, 2002 DESPITE RESPONDENTS' ADMISSION THAT THEY
PREVENTED SAID OFFICERS AND MEMBERS FROM REPORTING FOR WORK FOR ALLEGED VIOLATION OF
THE HOTEL'S GROOMING STANDARDS
37

-BWHETHER OR NOT THE 29 UNION OFFICERS AND 61 MEMBERS MAY VALIDLY BE DISMISSED AND MORE
THAN 200 MEMBERS BE VALIDLY SUSPENDED ON THE BASIS OF FOUR (4) SELF-SERVING AFFIDAVITS OF
RESPONDENTS
-CWHETHER OR NOT RESPONDENTS IN PREVENTING UNION OFFICERS AND MEMBERS FROM REPORTING
FOR WORK COMMITTED AN ILLEGAL LOCK-OUT
In G.R. No. 166295, the Union solicits a riposte from this Court on whether the Secretary has discretion to
impose "payroll" reinstatement when he assumes jurisdiction over labor disputes.
The Court's Ruling
The Court shall first dispose of G.R. No. 166295.
According to the Union, there is no legal basis for allowing payroll reinstatement in lieu of actual or physical
reinstatement. As argued, Art. 263 (g) of the Labor Code is clear on this point.
The Hotel, on the other hand, claims that the issue is now moot and any decision would be impossible to
execute in view of the Decision of the NLRC which upheld the dismissal of the Union officers and
members. cSCADE
The Union's position is untenable.
The Hotel correctly raises the argument that the issue was rendered moot when the NLRC upheld the
dismissal of the Union officers and members. In order, however, to settle this relevant and novel issue
involving the breadth of the power and jurisdiction of the Secretary in assumption of jurisdiction cases, we
now decide the issue on the merits instead of relying on mere technicalities.
We held in University of Immaculate Concepcion, Inc. v. Secretary of Labor:
With respect to the Secretary's Order allowing payroll reinstatement instead of actual reinstatement for the
individual respondents herein, an amendment to the previous Orders issued by her office, the same is
usually not allowed. Article 263 (g) of the Labor Code aforementioned states that all workers must
immediately return to work and all employers must readmit all of them under the same terms and
conditions prevailing before the strike or lockout. The phrase "under the same terms and conditions" makes
it clear that the norm is actual reinstatement. This is consistent with the idea that any work stoppage or
slowdown in that particular industry can be detrimental to the national interest.
Thus, it was settled that in assumption of jurisdiction cases, the Secretary should impose actual
reinstatement in accordance with the intent and spirit of Art. 263 (g) of the Labor Code. As with most rules,
however, this one is subject to exceptions. We held in Manila Diamond Hotel Employees' Union v. Court of
Appeals that payroll reinstatement is a departure from the rule, and special circumstances which make
actual reinstatement impracticable must be shown. In one case, payroll reinstatement was allowed where
the employees previously occupied confidential positions, because their actual reinstatement, the Court
said, would be impracticable and would only serve to exacerbate the situation. In another case, this Court
held that the NLRC did not commit grave abuse of discretion when it allowed payroll reinstatement as an
option in lieu of actual reinstatement for teachers who were to be reinstated in the middle of the first
term. We held that the NLRC was merely trying its best to work out a satisfactory ad hoc solution to a
festering and serious problem.

38

The peculiar circumstances in the present case validate the Secretary's decision to order payroll
reinstatement instead of actual reinstatement. It is obviously impracticable for the Hotel to actually
reinstate the employees who shaved their heads or cropped their hair because this was exactly the reason
they were prevented from working in the first place. Further, as with most labor disputes which have
resulted in strikes, there is mutual antagonism, enmity, and animosity between the union and the
management. Payroll reinstatement, most especially in this case, would have been the only avenue where
further incidents and damages could be avoided. Public officials entrusted with specific jurisdictions enjoy
great confidence from this Court. The Secretary surely meant only to ensure industrial peace as she
assumed jurisdiction over the labor dispute. In this case, we are not ready to substitute our own findings in
the absence of a clear showing of grave abuse of discretion on her part.
The issues raised in G.R. No. 163942, being interrelated, shall be discussed concurrently.
To be determined whether legal or not are the following acts of the Union:
(1) Reporting for work with their bald or cropped hair style on January 18, 2002; and
(2) The picketing of the Hotel premises on January 26, 2002.
The Union maintains that the mass picket conducted by its officers and members did not constitute a strike
and was merely an expression of their grievance resulting from the lockout effected by the Hotel
management. On the other hand, the Hotel argues that the Union's deliberate defiance of the company
rules and regulations was a concerted effort to paralyze the operations of the Hotel, as the Union officers
and members knew pretty well that they would not be allowed to work in their bald or cropped hair style.
For this reason, the Hotel argues that the Union committed an illegal strike on January 18, 2002 and on
January 26, 2002.
We rule for the Hotel.
Art. 212 (o) of the Labor Code defines a strike as "any temporary stoppage of work by the concerted action
of employees as a result of an industrial or labor dispute".
In Toyota Motor Phils. Corp. Workers Association (TMPCWA) v. National Labor Relations Commission, we
cited the various categories of an illegal strike, to wit:
Noted authority on labor law, Ludwig Teller, lists six (6) categories of an illegal strike, viz.:
(1) [when it] is contrary to a specific prohibition of law, such as strike by employees performing
governmental functions; or
(2) [when it] violates a specific requirement of law[, such as Article 263 of the Labor Code on the requisites
of a valid strike]; or
(3) [when it] is declared for an unlawful purpose, such as inducing the employer to commit an unfair labor
practice against non-union employees; or
(4) [when it] employs unlawful means in the pursuit of its objective, such as a widespread terrorism of nonstrikers [for example, prohibited acts under Art. 264(e) of the Labor Code]; or
(5) [when it] is declared in violation of an existing injunction[, such as injunction, prohibition, or order
issued by the DOLE Secretary and the NLRC under Art. 263 of the Labor Code]; or
(6) [when it] is contrary to an existing agreement, such as a no-strike clause or conclusive arbitration
clause.
39

With the foregoing parameters as guide and the following grounds as basis, we hold that the Union is liable
for conducting an illegal strike for the following reasons:

First, the Union's violation of the Hotel's Grooming Standards was clearly a deliberate and concerted action
to undermine the authority of and to embarrass the Hotel and was, therefore, not a protected action. The
appearances of the Hotel employees directly reflect the character and well-being of the Hotel, being a fivestar hotel that provides service to top-notch clients. Being bald or having cropped hair per se does not
evoke negative or unpleasant feelings. The reality that a substantial number of employees assigned to the
food and beverage outlets of the Hotel with full heads of hair suddenly decided to come to work baldheaded or with cropped hair, however, suggests that something is amiss and insinuates a sense that
something out of the ordinary is afoot. Obviously, the Hotel does not need to advertise its labor problems
with its clients. It can be gleaned from the records before us that the Union officers and members
deliberately and in apparent concert shaved their heads or cropped their hair. This was shown by the fact
that after coming to work on January 18, 2002, some Union members even had their heads shaved or their
hair cropped at the Union office in the Hotel's basement. Clearly, the decision to violate the company rule
on grooming was designed and calculated to place the Hotel management on its heels and to force it to
agree to the Union's proposals.
In view of the Union's collaborative effort to violate the Hotel's Grooming Standards, it succeeded in forcing
the Hotel to choose between allowing its inappropriately hair styled employees to continue working, to the
detriment of its reputation, or to refuse them work, even if it had to cease operations in affected
departments or service units, which in either way would disrupt the operations of the Hotel. This Court is of
the opinion, therefore, that the act of the Union was not merely an expression of their grievance or
displeasure but, indeed, a calibrated and calculated act designed to inflict serious damage to the Hotel's
finances or its reputation. Thus, we hold that the Union's concerted violation of the Hotel's Grooming
Standards which resulted in the temporary cessation and disruption of the Hotel's operations is an
unprotected act and should be considered as an illegal strike.

Second, the Union's concerted action which disrupted the Hotel's operations clearly violated the CBA's "No
Strike, No Lockout" provision, which reads:
ARTICLE XXII

No Strike/Work Stoppage and Lockout


SEC. 1. No Strikes.
The Union agrees that there shall be no strikes, walkouts, stoppage or slow-down of work, boycott, refusal
to handle accounts, picketing, sit-down strikes, sympathy strikes or any other form of interference and/or
interruptions with any of the normal operations of the HOTEL during the life of this Agreement.
The facts are clear that the strike arose out of a bargaining deadlock in the CBA negotiations with the
Hotel. The concerted action is an economic strike upon which the afore-quoted "no strike/work stoppage
and lockout" prohibition is squarely applicable and legally binding.

Third, the Union officers and members' concerted action to shave their heads and crop their hair not only
violated the Hotel's Grooming Standards but also violated the Union's duty and responsibility to bargain in
good faith. By shaving their heads and cropping their hair, the Union officers and members violated then
Section 6, Rule XIII of the Implementing Rules of Book V of the Labor Code. This rule prohibits the
commission of any act which will disrupt or impede the early settlement of the labor disputes that are under
conciliation. Since the bargaining deadlock is being conciliated by the NCMB, the Union's action to have
their officers and members' heads shaved was manifestly calculated to antagonize and embarrass the Hotel
40

management and in doing so effectively disrupted the operations of the Hotel and violated their duty to
bargain collectively in good faith.

Fourth, the Union failed to observe the mandatory 30-day cooling-off period and the seven-day strike
ban before it conducted the strike on January 18, 2002. The NLRC correctly held that the Union failed to
observe the mandatory periods before conducting or holding a strike. Records reveal that the Union filed its
Notice of Strike on the ground of bargaining deadlock on December 20, 2001. The 30-day cooling-off period
should have been until January 19, 2002. On top of that, the strike vote was held on January 14, 2002 and
was submitted to the NCMB only on January 18, 2002; therefore, the 7-day strike ban should have
prevented them from holding a strike until January 25, 2002. The concerted action committed by the Union
on January 18, 2002 which resulted in the disruption of the Hotel's operations clearly violated the abovestated mandatory periods.

Last, the Union committed illegal acts in the conduct of its strike. The NLRC ruled that the strike was illegal
since, as shown by the pictures presented by the Hotel, the Union officers and members formed human
barricades and obstructed the driveway of the Hotel. There is no merit in the Union's argument that it was
not its members but the Hotel's security guards and the police officers who blocked the driveway, as it can
be seen that the guards and/or police officers were just trying to secure the entrance to the Hotel. The
pictures clearly demonstrate the tense and highly explosive situation brought about by the strikers'
presence in the Hotel's driveway.
Furthermore, this Court, not being a trier of facts, finds no reason to alter or disturb the NLRC findings on
this matter, these findings being based on substantial evidence and affirmed by the CA. Factual findings of
labor officials, who are deemed to have acquired expertise in matters within their respective jurisdictions,
are generally accorded not only respect but even finality, and bind us when supported by substantial
evidence. Likewise, we are not duty-bound to delve into the accuracy of the factual findings of the NLRC in
the absence of clear showing that these were arrived at arbitrarily and/or bereft of any rational basis.
What then are the consequent liabilities of the Union officers and members for their participation in the
illegal strike?
Regarding the Union officers and members' liabilities for their participation in the illegal picket and strike,
Art. 264 (a), paragraph 3 of the Labor Code provides that "[a]ny union officer who knowingly
participates in an illegal strike and any worker or union officer who knowingly participates in
the commission of illegal acts during a strike may be declared to have lost his employment
status. . . ." The law makes a distinction between union officers and mere union members. Union officers
may be validly terminated from employment for their participation in an illegal strike, while union members
have to participate in and commit illegal acts for them to lose their employment status. Thus, it is
necessary for the company to adduce proof of the participation of the striking employees in the commission
of illegal acts during the strikes.
Clearly, the 29 Union officers may be dismissed pursuant to Art. 264 (a), par. 3 of the Labor Code which
imposes the penalty of dismissal on "any union officer who knowingly participates in an illegal
strike." We, however, are of the opinion that there is room for leniency with respect to the Union
members. It is pertinent to note that the Hotel was able to prove before the NLRC that the strikers blocked
the ingress to and egress from the Hotel. But it is quite apparent that the Hotel failed to specifically point
out the participation of each of the Union members in the commission of illegal acts during the picket and
the strike. For this lapse in judgment or diligence, we are constrained to reinstate the 61 Union members.
Further, we held in one case that union members who participated in an illegal strike but were not
identified to have committed illegal acts are entitled to be reinstated to their former positions but without
backwages. We then held inG & S Transport Corporation v. Infante:
41

With respect to backwages, the principle of a "fair day's wage for a fair day's labor" remains as the basic
factor in determining the award thereof. If there is no work performed by the employee there can be no
wage or pay unless, of course, the laborer was able, willing and ready to work but was illegally locked out,
suspended or dismissed or otherwise illegally prevented from working. While it was found that respondents
expressed their intention to report back to work, the latter exception cannot apply in this case. In Philippine
Marine Officer's Guild v. Compaia Maritima, as affirmed in Philippine Diamond Hotel and Resort v. Manila
Diamond Hotel Employees Union, the Court stressed that for this exception to apply, it is required that the
strike be legal, a situation that does not obtain in the case at bar.
In this light, we stand by our recent rulings and reinstate the 61 Union members without backwages.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the CA's May 6, 2004 Decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 70778 is hereby
AFFIRMED.
The CA's January 19, 2004 Decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 76568 is hereby SET ASIDE. The October 9, 2002
Decision of the NLRC in NLRC NCR CC No. 000215-02 is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS, as
follows:
The 29 Union officials are hereby declared to have lost their employment status, to wit:
1. LEO ANTONIO ATUTUBO
2. EDWIN E. BALLESTEROS
3. LORETTA DIVINA DE LUNA
4. INISUSAN DE VELEZ
5. DENNIS HABER
6. MARITES HERNANDEZ
7. BERNARD HUGO
8. NORZAMIA INTAL
9. LAURO JAVIER
10. SHANE LAUZ
11. MAY BELEN LEANO
12. EDGAR LINGHON
13. MILAGROS LOPEZ
14. JOSE MUZONES
15. RAY NERVA
16. JESUS NONAN
17. MARLYN OLLERO
18. CATHY ORDUNA
19. REYNALDO RASING
20. JUSTO TABUNDA
42

21. BARTOLOME TALISAYON


22. JUN TESORO
23. LYNDON TESORO
24. SALVADOR TIPONES
25. SONNY UY
26. WILFREDO VALLES, JR.
27. MEL VILLAHUCO
28. EMMA Q. DANAO
29. JORDAN ALEJANDRO
The 61 Union members are hereby REINSTATED to their former positions without backwages: IcHTAa
1. DANILO AGUINALDO
2. CLARO ABRANTE
3. FELIX ARRIESGADO
4. DAN BAUTISTA
5. MA. THERESA BONIFACIO
6. JUAN BUSCANO
7. ELY CHUA
8. ALLAN DELAGON
9. FRUMENCIO DE LEON
10. ELLIE DEL MUNDO
11. EDWIN DELOS CIENTOS
12. SOLOMON DIZON
13. YLOTSKI DRAPER
14. ERLAND COLLANTES
15. JONAS COMPENIDO
16. RODELIO ESPINUEVA
17. ARMANDO ESTACIO
18. SHERWIN FALCES
19. JELA FRANZUELA
20. REY GEALOGO
21. ALONA GERNOMINO
43

22. VINCENT HEMBRADOR


23. ROSLYN IBARBIA
24. JAIME IDIOMA, JR.
25. OFELIA LLABAN
26. RENATON LUZONG
27. TEODULO MACALINO
28. JAKE MACASAET
29. HERNANIE PABILONIA
30. HONORIO PACIONE
31. ANDREA VILLAFUERTE
32. MARIO PACULAN
33. JULIO PAJINAG
34. JOSELITO PASION
35. VICENTE PASIOLAN
36. HAZEL PENA
37. PEDRO POLLANTE
38. EDUARDO RAMOS
39. IMELDA RASIN
40. DELFIN RAZALAN
41. EVANGELINE REYES
42. RODOLFO REYES
43. BRIGILDO RUBIO
44. RIO SALCEDO
45. JUANITO SANCHEZ
46. MA. THERESA SANCHEZ
47. DONATO SAN AGUSTIN
48. RICARDO SOCORRO
49. VALERIO SOLIS
50. DOMINADOR SUAREZ
51. ORLANDO TABUGOCA
52. HELEN TALEON
44

53. ROBERT TANEGRA


54. LOURDES TAYAG
55. ROLANDO TOLENTINO
56. REYNALDO TRESNADO
57. RICHARD SABLADA
58. MAE YAP-DIANGCO
59. GILBERTO VEDASTO
60. DOMINGO VIDAROZAGA
61. DAN VILLANUEVA
In view of the possibility that the Hotel might have already hired regular replacements for the afore-listed
61 employees, the Hotel may opt to pay SEPARATION PAY computed at one (1) month's pay for every year
of service in lieu of REINSTATEMENT, a fraction of six (6) months being considered one year of service.
SO ORDERED.
||| (National Union of Workers in the Hotel Restaurant and Allied Industries v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No.

163942, 166295, [November 11, 2008], 591 PHIL 570-589)

45