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PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

EN BANC

[G.R. No. L-6953. March 31, 1955. ]

NATIONAL LABOR UNION, Petitioner, v. BERG DEPARTMENT STORE, INC., Respondent.

Eulogio R. Lerum for Petitioner.

Antonio Gaw for Respondent.


SYLLABUS


EMPLOYER AND EMPLOYEE; DISPOSAL OF EMPLOYEE; CASE AT BAR. — The collective bargaining agreement between the labor union and the respondent company enumerated in clauses (c) and (d) specific grounds for the dismissal of the company’s employees. In clause (e) it was provided that "in cases of dismissal of permanent, regular, or full- time employees, not governed by clause (c), the company agrees to give 30 days notice or 30 days pay in lieu thereof." Held: The latter clause did not authorize the respondent company to dismiss any employee without cause, and the requirement as to 30 days notice or pay is applicable only to dismissals under clause (d), namely, closing of a department or recession of business of the respondent company.


D E C I S I O N


PARAS, C.J. :


On February 12, 1952, the petitioner and the respondent entered into a collective bargaining agreement which, insofar as it affects this case, provides as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"‘(c) The contracting parties agree that in furtherance of such discipline, the following grounds shall be considered as just causes for dismissal without notice:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

1. Culpable violation of the law, rules, and regulations applicable to labor;

2. Voluntary injury to any fellow employee or officer of the Company;

3. Willful damage to merchandise, machinery, furniture or equipment of the Company;

4. Smoking in prohibited areas which will endanger the security of the establishment;

5. Drunken and/or disorderly conduct;

6. Dishonesty;

7. Punching somebody else’s card;

8. Unauthorized possession of firearms or other deadly weapons;

9. Inefficiency or reiterated lack of courtesy and service;

10. Lack of respect or courtesy to customers;

11. Habitual lateness.

"‘d. In obedience of economic principles, closing of a department or recession of the business shall also serve as ground for the dismissal of employees.

"‘e. In cases of dismissal of permanent, regular or full-time employees, not governed by clauses C, the Company agrees to give 30 days notice or 30 days pay in lieu thereof.’"

The dismissal by the respondent of two of its employees, Emilia David and Miguel Pañganiban, caused the petitioner, National Labor Union, to file in the Court of Industrial Relations on March 14, 1953, a petition, alleging that said dismissal was without any just cause, and praying that the respondent be ordered to reinstate them with back pay from January 31, 1963. The respondent filed an answer, alleging that the grounds for the dismissal were immorality, inefficiency, disorderly conduct and culpable violation of existing rules and regulations of the company, and praying that the petition be denied and the petitioner ordered to pay P500 under the counterclaim set up by the Respondent. Associate Judge Juan L. Lanting rendered a decision dated June 12, 1953, finding that the "respondent has failed to prove by preponderance of evidence the charges or offenses attributed to Emilia David and Miguel Pañganiban, but denying the petition on the ground that their dismissal was justified under clause (c) of the collective bargaining agreement which allows the respondent to dismiss any employee even without cause provided that it gives him 30 days’ notice or 30 days’ pay in lieu of such notice. Judge Lanting denied the respondent’s counterclaim. The motion for reconsideration filed by the petitioner was denied by the Court of Industrial Relations in banc in its resolution of July 13, 1953, by a vote of three to two. The case is now before us on appeal by certiorari taken by the petitioner.

The collective bargaining agreement entered into between the petitioner and respondent enumerates in clauses (c) and (d) specific grounds for dismissal of respondent’s employees, and the Court of Industrial Relations found as a fact that the employees herein involved were not dismissed on any of said grounds. The only question that arises is whether clause (e) of the agreement providing that "in cases of dismissal of permanent, regular or full-time employees, not governed by clause (c), the Company agrees to give 30 days notice or 30 day pay in lieu thereof," authorizes the respondent to dismiss any employee even without cause, on condition that it gives 30 days’ notice or 30 days’ pay in lieu thereof. Our answer has, without any hesitancy, to be in the negative. It is significant that the petitioner and the respondent, in their collective bargaining agreement, had undertaken to limit the grounds for dismissal to those listed in clauses (c) and (d), and we do not think that clause (e) was added to serve as a blanket authority for the respondent to dismiss on any ground other than those already specified, or even without cause. The more logical construction is that clause (e) was inserted in the agreement for the benefit of respondent’s employees who may be dismissed by the respondent, not on any ground under clause (c), but for causes pointed out in clause (d), namely, closing of a department or recession of business. We say this is logical, because if an employee is dismissed for any cause enumerated in clause (c), it is fair that the company should not be required to give 30 days’ notice or 30 days’ pay in lieu thereof; whereas if any employee is separated due to the closing of a department or recession of the business of the respondent, it is also fair that the innocent employee be at least entitled to a 30-day notice or 30 days’ pay in lieu thereof. This construction is also borne out by the very term of clause (e) which expressly mentions dismissals not governed by clause (c) necessarily restricting its application only to separations under clause (d). It is difficult to believe that the petitioner, in entering into the collective bargaining agreement, could have bartered the right of its members to feel secure in their employment, for a month’s pay.

The contention of counsel for respondent that the latter should be allowed to dismiss the employees herein involved, for the reason that they had already lost its confidence, can not be sustained since the alleged loss of confidence must necessarily have resulted from the grounds which prompted the respondent to dismiss them; and inasmuch as the Court of Industrial Relations has found said grounds to be unsubstantiated, there can be no valid reason for said loss of confidence.

Wherefore, the appealed decision is hereby reversed and the respondent ordered to reinstate Emilia David and Miguel Pañganiban with back pay from January 31, 1953. So ordered with costs against the Respondent.

Jugo and Labrador, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions


PABLO, M. concurrente:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

En 12 de febrero de 1952 la Berg Department Store, Inc. y la National Labor Union entraron en un convenio (Exhibito A) sobre las condiciones de empleo y establecieron las causas por las cuales un empleado podia ser despedido. En 31 de enero de 1953 la Berg Department Store, Inc. despidio a Emilia David y Miguel Pañganiban, cada uno de los cuales percibia, como empleados de la primera, un sueldo mensual de P130 y de P160, respectivamente. En 3 de febrero del mismo año la National Labor Union, de la que son miembros dichos empleados, pidio la reposicion de los mismos, pero la peticion no fue atendida. Como habia mas de trienta miembros de la recurrente que trabajaban en dicho establecimiento comercial y era inminente que se declarasen en huelga a menos que se resolviera la reclamacion, la recurrente presento su solicitud en la presente causa, pidiendo que el Tribunal de Relaciones Industriales ordenase la reposicion de Emilia David y Miguel Pañganiban y el pago de sus sueldos devengados a contar del 31 de enero de 1953 hasta su reposicion.

En contestacion, la recurrida alego que Emilia David y Miguel Pañganiban fueron despedidos por inmoralidad, ineficiencia, conducta desordenada y culpable infraccion de los reglamentos de la compañia. Vista la causa, el Tribunal sobreseyo la solicitud. Una parte de la decision dice asi:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Upon the whole, the court finds that respondent has failed to prove preponderance or evidence the charges or offenses attributed to Emilia David and Miguel Pañganiban.

"However, the dismissal of Emilia David and Miguel Pangañiban is justified under the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement marked as Exhibit "3" for petitioner and Exhibit "3" for Respondent."cralaw virtua1aw library

El articulo V del convenio es del tenor siguiente:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"(c) The contracting parties agree that in furtherance of such discipline, the following ground shall be considered as just causes for dismissal without notice:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

1. Culpable violation of the law, rules and regulation applicable to labor;

2. Voluntary injury to any fellow employee or officer of the Company;

3. Willful damages to merchandise, machinery, furniture, or equipment of the Company;

4. Smoking in prohibited areas which will endanger the security of the establishment;

5. Drunken and/or disorderly conduct;

6. Dishonesty;

7. Punching somebody else’s time card; or doctoring one’s own time card;

8. Unauthorized possession of firearms or other deadly weapons;

9. Inefficiency or reiterated lack of courtesy and service;

10. Lack of respect or courtesy to customers;

11. Habitual lateness.

(d) In obedience to economic principles, closing of a department or recession of the business shall also serve as ground for the dismissal of employees.

"(e) In cases of dismissal of permanent, regular or full-time employees, not governed by clause C, the Company agrees to give 30 days notice or 30 days pay in lieu thereof."cralaw virtua1aw library

Despues de discutir los terminos del convenio, el Tribunal concluyo: ". . . the company could dismiss any employee for any cause not enumerated in clause (C) or even without cause, provided that the company gives 30 days’ notice or 30 days’ pay in lieu of such notice."cralaw virtua1aw library

La mocion de reconsideracion fue denegada, con la disidencia de dos miembros del Tribunal. En sintesis, el Tribunal Industrial concluyo que no se han probado las acusaciones de inmoralidad, ineficiencia, conducta desordenada y culpable infraccion de los reglamentos contra Emilia David y Miguel Pañganiban; pero que la compañia tenia derecho a despedirles, aun sin justo motivo, dandoles una mesada.

En recurso de certiorari, la National Labor Union contiende que el Tribunal Industrial erro al declarar que el patrono puede despachar a los empleados sin justa causa.

Segun el convenio transcrito, el patrono puede despachar sin aviso a los que comotieren las faltas enumeradas en el parafo (C); como Emilia y Miguel no han cometido falta alguna, entonces fueron indebidamente despachados: deben, pues, continuar en su empleo.

De acuerdo con el parrafo (D), el cierre del establecimiento por exigencias economicas es otro motivo para el despido de un empleado; pero como en dicho caso el empleado no comete ninguna falta, justo es que se le de un aviso previo de 30 dias o sueldo de un mes.

La contencion de la Berg Department Store, Inc., fundada en la clausula (E) de que puede despachar a sus empleados aun sin justa causa, carece de fundamento. Dicha clausula es equivalente al articulo 303 del Codigo de Comercio; bajo dicho codigo podia el patrono despachar a su empleado si le daba un aviso de 30 dias o el sueldo de un mes. Este articulo ya fue derogado por el articulo 2270 del Codigo Civil de Filipinas en 30 de agosto de 1950, y año y medio antes del otorgamiento del convenio Exhibit A.
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