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Colgate Palmolive Philippines vs Ople
G..R. No. 73681
June 30, 1988
This is a petition for certiorari seeking to set and annul the order then Minister Blas Ople of the Ministry of Labor and Employment (MOLE).
On March 1, 1985, the respondent Union filed a Notice of Strike with the Bureau of Labor Relations (BLR) on ground of unfair labor practice consisting of alleged refusal to bargain, dismissal of union officers/members; and coercing employees to retract their membership with the union and restraining non-union members from joining the union.
After efforts at amicable settlement proved unavailing, the Office of the MOLE, upon petition of petitioner assumed jurisdiction over the dispute pursuant to Article 264 (g) of the Labor Code.
Colgate Palmolive Philippines, Inc in its position stated that There is no legal basis for the charge that the company refused to bargain collectively with the union considering that the alleged union is not the certified agent of the company salesmen. The union's status as a legitimate labor organization is still under question because on 6 March 1985, a certain Monchito Rosales informed the BLR that an overwhelming majority of the salesmen are not in favor of the Notice of Strike allegedly filed by the Union.
The respondent Union, on the other hand, in its position paper, reiterated the issue in its Notice to Strike, alleging that it was duly registered with the Bureau of Labor Relations.
On August 9,1985, respondent Minister rendered a decision which found no merit in the Union's Complaint for unfair labor practice allegedly committed by petitioner as regards the alleged refusal of petitioner to negotiate with the Union, and the secret distribution of survey sheets allegedly intended to discourage unionism. It also found the three salesmen, Peregrino Sayson, Salvador Reynante & Cornelio Mejia "not without fault" and that "the company has grounds to dismiss above named salesmen"
Respondent Minister directly certified the respondent Union as the collective bargaining agent for the sales force in petitioner company and ordered the reinstatement of the three salesmen to the company on the ground that the employees were first offenders.
(a) W/N respondent Minister committed a grave abuse of discretion when he directly certified the Union solely on the basis of the latter's self-serving assertion that it enjoys the support of the majority of the sales force in petitioner's company?
(b) W/N respondent Minister created havoc by impliedly establishing a procedural short-cut to obtaining a direct certification-by merely filing a notice of strike?
Petitioner concedes that respondent Minister has the power to decide a labor dispute in a case assumed by him under Art. 264 (g) of the Labor Code but this power was exceeded when he certified respondent Union as the exclusive bargaining agent of the company's salesmen since this is not a representation proceeding as described under the Labor Code. Moreover the Union did not pray for certification but merely for a finding of unfair labor practice imputed to petitioner-company.
The order of the respondent Minister to reinstate the employees despite a clear finding of guilt on their part is not in conformity with law. Reinstatement is simply incompatible with a finding of guilt. Where the totality of the evidence was sufficient to warrant the dismissal of the employees the law warrants their dismissal without making any distinction between a first offender and a habitual delinquent. Under the law, respondent Minister is duly mandated to equally protect and respect not only the labor or workers' side but also the management and/or employers' side. The law, in protecting the rights of the laborer, authorizes neither oppression nor self-destruction of the employer.
However, Respondent Minister has still maintained in his assailed order that a just cause existed to justify the dismissal of the employees. Respondent Minister has not made any finding substantiated by evidence that the employees were dismissed because of their union activities.
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered REVERSING and SETTING ASIDE the Order of the respondent Minister, dated December 27, 1985 for grave abuse of discretion. However, in view of the fact that the dismissed employees are first offenders, petitioner is hereby ordered to give them separation pay. The temporary restraining order is hereby made permanent.