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Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation vs Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation Workers Association
Labor Relations – Categories of Illegal Strikes
In May 2000, Mediator-Arbiter Ma. Zosima Lameyra issued an order certifying Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation Workers Association as the exclusive bargaining agent of all Toyota rank-and-file employees. Toyota filed a motion for reconsideration assailing the said order. Lameyra denied the motion and Toyota eventually appealed the order before the DOLE Secretary.
Meanwhile, the Union submitted its collective bargaining agreement (CBA) proposals to Toyota but the latter refused to bargain pending its appeal before the DOLE Secretary. The Union then filed a notice of strike with the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB). The NCMB converted the notice of strike to a preventive mediation considering that the DOLE Secretary was yet to decide on Toyota’s appeal.
In relation to Toyota’s appeal, the parties were invited to a hearing. Union members were not allowed to attend the hearing as they were aptly represented by the Union. But despite this, many Union members and officers failed to render overtime and work on the following day which caused Toyota to lose P53,849,991.00. The union members went to the hearing and assembled before the Bureau of Labor Relations.
Subsequently, Toyota terminated 227 employees. The terminated employees allegedly abandoned their work.
This resulted to another rally within Toyota’s premises as the strikers barricaded the entrances of Toyota preventing non-strikers from going to work.
In April 2001, the DOLE Secretary assumed jurisdiction over the labor dispute and issued a return-to-work order. The Union ended its strike in the same month. However, in May and June 2001, union members still conducted rallies and pickets.
ISSUE: Whether or not the strikes conducted by the Union on different occasions are illegal.
HELD: Yes. The strike conducted before the BLR as well as the strike conducted when the 227 employees were terminated is illegal because both did not go through the proper procedure required by the Labor Code. It cannot be said that the strike conducted before the BLR is beyond the ambit of the strikes contemplated in the Labor Code. The Union argues that the “strike” is actually a protest directed against the government and is covered by their constitutional right to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances. The SC disagreed with this argument because the Union failed to provide evidence that the Mediator-Arbiter was biased against them. Further, if this were the kind of protest they were claiming, they should have secured a rally permit. Further still, this case involves a labor dispute. The employees may shroud their “strike” as mere demonstrations covered by the constitution but in reality these are temporary work stoppages.
The strikes conducted after the DOLE Secretary assumed jurisdiction over the labor dispute are illegal for they violated the return-to-work order.
The Supreme Court also cited the 6 categories of illegal strikes which are:
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 non-strikers [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.
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