by Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) – with Mayen Jaymalin, Aug 14, 2018
MANILA, Philippines — The Duterte administration’s campaign against “endo” or end of contract labor practice got another legal boost.
The Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered the reinstatement of a group of workers of milk manufacturer Wyeth Philippines Inc. who were dismissed in 2015 over an illegal labor-only contract.
In a 22-page decision promulgated on June 26, the 11th Division of the appellate court reversed and set aside the August 2015 ruling of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) that dismissed 20 workers hired by Wyeth through a service agreement with contractor Serman Cooperative.
The CA instead directed Wyeth, a subsidiary of Nestle S.A., to reinstate the dismissed workers “without loss of seniority rights and other privileges.”
It also ordered both Wyeth and Serman to “pay, jointly and severally, their full back wages, inclusive of allowances and other benefits or their monetary equivalent computed from the time their compensation is withheld up to the time of their actual reinstatement.”
The CA held that the NLRC erred in its finding that the termination of contract with the petitioners was valid because they did not have an employer-employee relationship with Wyeth and that their jobs did not meet the necessity and desirability requirements.
It stressed that the workers who were involved in sorting of finishing goods, cartoning of sachets and finished goods and preparing and dumping of raw materials should be considered employees of Wyeth.
“Undoubtedly, the services that the complainants-appellants had rendered were necessary or desirable in the usual business or trade of Wyeth, i.e. manufacturing and distribution of milk products,” read the ruling penned by Associate Justice Ramon Bato Jr.
“We cannot give credence to Serman’s claim that the complainants-appellants were performing ancillary services because they merely assisted in the manual works which do not require technical skill, experience and knowledge in the manufacturing of milk or in the operation of machines and other equipment utilized in the manufacturing process,” the CA pointed out.
The appellate court likewise cited Wyeth’s “repeated and continuous rehiring” of petitioners as proof of their necessity and desirability for the company’s operations.
It rejected Wyeth’s argument that it could end the contract with the workers because its service agreements with Serman did not create an employee-employer relationship.
“Suffice it to state that the service contracts are not determinative of the true nature of the parties’ relationship and the character of the business, whether as labor-only contractor or as a job contractor, should be determined by the criteria set by statute and the parties cannot dictate by mere expedience of a unilateral declaration in a contract the character of their business,” the CA further stressed.
Associate Justices Ramon Cruz and Pablito Perez concurred with the ruling, which is not yet final and may still be appealed.
It was the second time the CA ordered the reinstatement of dismissed workers of Wyeth.
In October 2016, the CA also ordered the reinstatement of 35 workers and declared Serman to be engaged in illegal labor-only contracting.
DOLE seeks regularization of 600,000 workers
Meanwhile, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is seeking the regularization of 600,000 workers by the end of the year.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), the biggest group of employers in the country, has pledged to regularize 300,000 contractual workers in the remaining months of 2018.
“This is a significant number which demonstrates the employers’ cooperation with the government,” he said.
Bello said DOLE and ECOP are drafting the necessary agreement for the implementation of the regularization program.
He added the DOLE is working on the regularization of 300,000 other workers this year. –
Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/08/14/1842412/fight-vs-endo-gets-legal-boost#YzpToVZAi6uovWe8.99