G.R. Nos. 122743 & 127215 December 12, 1997
TELEFUNKEN SEMICONDUCTORS EMPLOYEES UNION - FFW, Petitioner, v. SECRETARY OF LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT AND TEMIC TELEFUNKEN MICRO-ELECTRONICS (PHILS.), INC., Respondent.
TEMIC TELEFUNKEN MICRO-ELECTRONICS (PHIL.), INC.,Petitioner, v. HON. LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING in his capacity as Secretary of Labor & Employment, and TELEFUNKEN SEMICONDUCTORS EMPLOYEES UNION - FFW, Respondents.
Two (2) petitions for certiorari are before us: first, the petition instituted by Telefunken Semiconductors Employees Union-FFW (UNION for brevity), questioning the exclusion of union officers, shop stewards and those with pending criminal charges in the order of the Acting Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) directing the company to accept back all striking workers, docketed as G.R. No. 122743, and second, the petition filed a year later by Temic Telefunken Microelectronics (Phil.), Inc. (COMPANY for brevity), seeking to set aside altogether the writ of execution issued to implement the order, docketed as G.R. No. 127215.
On 25 August 1995 the dispute between the parties started when the COMPANY and the UNION reached a deadlock in their negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement. Hence on 28 August 1995 the UNION filed a Notice of Strike with the National Conciliation and Mediation Board. On 8 September 1995, upon petition of the COMPANY considering the nature of its business and the corresponding effects to the country's economy, then Acting Secretary of Labor and Employment Jose S. Brillantes, after ascertaining that the labor dispute involved a matter of national interest, intervened and assumed jurisdiction over the dispute pursuant to Art. 263, par. (g), of the Labor Code.
Nevertheless, on 14 September 1995 the UNION struck. Two (2) days later, or on 16 September 1995, Acting Secretary Brillantes ordered the striking workers to return to work within twenty-four (24) hours. But the striking UNION members failed to return to work; instead, they continued with their pickets. As a result, on 23 September 1995 violence erupted in the picket lines. The service bus ferrying non-striking workers was stoned causing injuries to its passengers. Thereafter complaints for threats, defamation, illegal detention and physical injuries were filed against the strikers.
Meanwhile, on 26 September 1995 the COMPANY sent show cause memoranda to the UNION members who joined the strike and defied the return-to-work orders, directing them to submit their written explanation why they should not be disciplined or dismissed from employment. Not one reportedly submitted an explanation. Still, a number of UNION members continued refusing to return to work. Thus on 1 October 1995 the UNION members were placed under preventive suspension and asked to appear in the administrative hearing that was conducted. Only two (2) workers appeared. Consequently, on 2 October 1995 letters of termination for cause were personally delivered to UNION members who failed to report for work notwithstanding the assumption and return-to-work orders.
On 29 October 1995 Acting Secretary Brillantes issued an Order dated 27 October 1995 a portion of which reads -
On 9 November 1995 both the COMPANY and the UNION filed their respective motions for reconsideration. On 24 November 1995 Acting Secretary Brillantes issued an order modifying in part his 27 October 1995 Order, but affirmed that portion which excluded the union officers, shop stewards and those with pending criminal charges, from the order to accept back all striking workers pending the resolution of the issue involving the legality of the strike.
On 5 December 1995, the UNION, aggrieved by the Order of 27 October 1995 instituted a petition for certiorari before this Court questioning the order excluding all union officers, shop stewards and all those with pending criminal charges. The UNION argued that since, as stated in the Order of 27 October 1995, the "termination (of all union officers, shop stewards and all those with pending criminal charges) shall be among the issues to be heard by Atty. Genilo," they should not have been excluded at all in the first place, as their immediate exclusion is in effect termination without due process.
Meanwhile, as a result of the dispute, some 1,500 striking workers many of whom had been charged before the Office of the Prosecutor after 27 October 1995 have yet to be reinstated. On 7 December 1995 Acting Secretary Brillantes issued a clarificatory order the dispositive portion of which states -
Pending resolution of the petition filed by the UNION before this Court, Secretary of Labor and Employment Leonardo A. Quisumbing issued a Writ of Execution the dispositive portion of which states -
The COMPANY filed a Motion to Quash, Recall or Suspend the Writ of Execution. On 17 October 1996 the motion was denied for lack of merit and an alias writ of execution was issued directing the reinstatement of the strikers in the payroll if actual and physical reinstatement was not possible. On 23 October 1996 the COMPANY filed a motion for reconsideration which on 21 November 1996 was denied. On 9 December 1996 the COMPANY, not satisfied with the rulings of the Secretary of Labor and Employment, petitioned this Court for a writ of certiorari:
In these twin petitions, the UNION argues that the exclusion of union officers, shop stewards and those with pending criminal charges from the directive to the COMPANY to accept back the striking workers is tantamount to illegal dismissal since the workers are in effect being terminated without due process of law. The COMPANY on the other hand maintains that the dismissal of those who failed to comply with the assumption and return-to-work orders is valid and in accordance with jurisprudence.
Furthermore, the Company asserts that the Secretary of Labor and Employment should have refrained from issuing a writ of execution mandating the immediate reinstatement of some 1,500 dismissed striking workers since the exclusion of union officers, shop stewards and those with pending criminal charges from the directive to the COMPANY to accept back the striking workers is still pending before this Court. Also, the COMPANY claims that the Secretary of Labor gravely abused his discretion when he ruled that complaints lodged with the police authorities before 27 October 1995 and subsequently filed with the provincial prosecutor after 27 October 1995 are not within the ambit of the phrase "with pending criminal charges."
In the main, the consolidated cases raise three (3) issues: whether the Secretary of Labor and Employment gravely abused his discretion, first, in excluding union officers, shop stewards and those with pending criminal charges in his order to the COMPANY to accept back the striking workers; second, in issuing a writ of execution pending resolution of a related petition for certiorari before this Court; and third, in holding that complaints lodged before the police authorities before 27 October 1995 and subsequently filed with the provincial prosecutor after 27 October 1995 are not within the ambit of the phrase "with pending criminal charges."
We first resolve the exclusion of certain employees. In Union of Filipro Employees v. Nestle Philippines, Inc., 4 we said -
In Gold City Integrated Port Service, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission 5 we explained -
But as we said in Batangas Laguna Tayabas Bus Company v. NLRC 6 -
In the case before us, we cannot see how respondent Secretary of Labor and Employment arrived at his decision of excluding union officers, shop stewards and those with pending criminal charges in his directive to the COMPANY to accept back the striking workers. For in the same assailed Order he said on the illegal strike issue -
Thus in the dispositive portion of his Order the Secretary of Labor stated that the termination of subject employees shall be among the issues yet to be heard by Atty. Genilo who was designated to "immediately call the parties and hear and receive evidence on the matter of illegal strike, including the reciprocal demands of the parties for damages arising therefrom . . ." 7
It may be true that the workers struck after the Secretary of Labor and Employment had assumed jurisdiction over the case and that they may have failed to immediately return to work even after the issuance of a return-to-work order, making their continued strike illegal. For, a return-to-work order is immediately effective and executory notwithstanding the filing of a motion for reconsideration. 8 But, the liability of each of the union officers and the workers, if any, has yet to be determined. More so in the instant case where the UNION alleges inadequate service upon the UNION leadership of the Assumption Order of 8 September 1995 and the return-to-work Order of 16 September 1995. 9 Thus, did all or some of the UNION leaders knowingly participate in the illegal strike? Did any or all of the members of the UNION who then had pending criminal charges knowingly participate in the commission, if any, of illegal acts during the strike? The records do not bear the answers to these questions, but only expectedly so, for Atty. Genilo of the DOLE has yet to hear and receive evidence on the matter, and to submit a report and recommendation thereon.
Thus to exclude union officers, shop stewards and those with pending criminal charges in the directive to the COMPANY to accept back the striking workers without first determining whether they knowingly committed illegal acts would be tantamount to dismissal without due process of law. We therefore hold that the Honorable Secretary of Labor gravely abused his discretion in excluding union officers, shop stewards and those with pending criminal charges in the order to the COMPANY to accept back the striking workers pending resolution of the issue involving the legality of the strike.
We however sustain the authority of the Secretary of Labor and Employment to issue the assailed writ of execution 10 -
This, to say the least, is elementary. Thus, as correctly cited by the UNION, 11 this Court in Santiago v. Vasquez 12 said -
The COMPANY likewise argues that the Secretary of Labor gravely abuse his discretion when he ruled that complaints filed with the police authorities before 27 October 1995 and subsequently with the provincial prosecutor after 27 October 1995 are not within the ambit of the phrase "with pending criminal charges." Suffice it to say that this issue has been rendered moot. For, we have earlier said that no striker should have been excluded it appearing from the record that the strike has yet to be ruled upon and the liability of each striker still to be determined.
But if only for the sake of argument, the contention of the COMPANY is still specious. The Secretary of Labor could not have explained this point any better 13 -
At best the raising of this issue by COMPANY appears to be an afterthought as the COMPANY has failed to seek the reversal of the Order of 7 December 1995 holding that "the phrase 'those with pending criminal charges' shall only cover those workers with pending criminal charges at the time of the issuance of the Order dated 27 October 1995." The COMPANY merely questioned this ruling after a writ of execution was already issued on 27 June 1996, or long after the clarificatory order dated 7 December 1995 had become final and executory.
In fine, we repeat what the Solicitor General astutely observed in Batangas Laguna Tayabas Bus Company v. NLRC 14 -
While this Court prefers to rule likewise on the legality or illegality of the strike and determine the individual liability of the strikers, if any, to put an end to this protracted labor dispute, this Court is unable to do so as the record is wanting of any evidence to support a conclusion. We thus order the Secretary of Labor to resolve the instant case with utmost dispatch and determine whether the strike was illegal and the liability of the individual strikers, if any.
A word of admonition to petitioner-employees who camped in front of the Supreme Court Building, commenced a "hunger strike," and who now appear to have vowed to continue with their protest march until the end -
Here, the Court will do no less. It will not yield its judicial prerogatives to petitioning strikers if only to appease them, much less give in to their demand for a favorable decision and violate the basic tenets of due process. For when petitioners marched with their placards in front of the premises of the Court, pitched their tents on the sidewalk across the street and went on "hunger strike" while demanding an early disposition in their favor, until they moved over to the Department of Justice next door, the petition in G.R. No. 127215 was not even submitted yet for decision. The pleadings had yet to be completed.
Indeed, it would be unfeeling, if not unchristian, to ignore the "hunger strike" of the workers and allow them to be exposed to the elements - the cold of the night and the scorching heat of the noonday sun. But the strikers must realize that judicial decisions are not issued on pity and sympathy. They are weighed according to the established facts and the merits of the arguments of the parties. This Court at times may show compassion and mercy but it cannot hem and haw to lay aside its emotional nuance and sacrifice the broader interest of fair play and justice. Let this then be a stern warning to all those who hanker for justice yet desire to obtain it through improper pressure and influence, e.g., demonstrations, pretensions, mass actions, etc. This schematic artifice will take them nowhere. On the contrary, such wantonness and unrestrained misconduct gravely offend and affront the dignity of the Court.
WHEREFORE, the petition in G.R. No. 122743 is GRANTED. Respondent TEMIC TELEFUNKEN MICROELECTRONICS (PHILS.), INC., is ORDERED to accept back immediately all striking workers of TELEFUNKEN SEMICONDUCTORS EMPLOYEES UNION - FFW WITHOUT EXCEPTION.
In G.R. No. 127215, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit. Accordingly, respondent Secretary of Labor and Employment is DIRECTED to ensure the effective enforcement of the writ of execution he issued and determine WITH DISPATCH the legality of the strike as well as the liability of the individual strikers, if any. The members of the TELEFUNKEN SEMICONDUCTORS EMPLOYEES UNION - FFW are WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar mass demonstration within or about the premises of this Court will be dealt with severely.
Davide, Jr., Vitug and Kapunan, JJ., concur.
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