Insular Life Assurance Co., Ltd., Employees Association-NATU v. Insular Life Assurance Co., Ltd.

 Insular Life Assurance Co., Ltd., Employees Association-NATU v. Insular Life Assurance Co., Ltd., 

147 PHIL 194-230

 January 30, 1971


The Insular Life Assurance Co., Ltd., Employees Association-NATU, FGU Insurance Group Workers & Employees Association-NATU, and Insular Life Building Employees Association-NATU (hereinafter referred to as the Unions), while still members of the Federation of Free Workers (FFW), entered into separate CBAs with the Insular Life Assurance Co., Ltd. and the FGU Insurance Group (hereinafter referred to as the Companies).

Two of the lawyers of the Unions then were Felipe Enaje and Ramon Garcia; the latter was formerly the secretary-treasurer of the FFW and acting president of the Insular Life/FGU unions and the Insular Life Building Employees Association. Garcia, as such acting president, in a circular issued in his name and signed by him, tried to dissuade the members of the Unions from disaffiliating with the FFW and joining the National Association of Trade Unions (NATU), to no avail.

Enaje and Garcia soon left the FFW and secured employment with the Anti-Dummy Board of the Department of Justice. Thereafter, the Companies hired Garcia in the latter part of 1956 as assistant corporate secretary and legal assistant in their Legal Department. Enaje was hired as personnel manager of the Companies, and was likewise made chairman of the negotiating panel for the Companies in the collective bargaining with the Unions.

Unions jointly submitted proposals to the Companies; negotiations were conducted on the Union’s proposals, but these were snagged by a deadlock on the issue of union shop, as a result of which the Unions filed on January 27, 1958 a notice of strike for “deadlock on collective bargaining.” The issue was dropped subsequently (in short, nagkasundo). But, the parties negotiated on the labor demands but with no satisfactory result due to a stalemate on the matter of salary increases.

Meanwhile, 87 unionists were reclassified as supervisors without increase in salary nor in responsibility while negotiations were going on in the Department of Labor after the notice to strike was served on the Companies. These employees resigned from the Unions. On May 21, 1958 the Companies through their acting manager and president, sent to each of the strikers a letter.

Unions, however, continued on strike, with the exception of a few unionists who were convinced to desist by the aforesaid letter from the date the strike was called on May 21, 1958, until it was called off on May 31, 1958, some management men tried to break thru the Unions’ picket lines succeeded in penetrating the picket lines in front of the Insular Life Building, thus causing injuries to the picketers and also to the strike-breakers due to the resistance offered by some picketers.

Alleging that some non-strikers were injured and with the use of photographs as evidence, the Companies then filed criminal charges against the strikers with the City Fiscal’s Office of Manila. another letter was sent by the company to the individual strikers. All of the more than 120 criminal charges filed against the members of the Unions, except 3, were dismissed by the fiscal’s office and by the courts. These three cases involved “slight physical injuries” against one striker and “light coercion” against two others. At any rate, because of the issuance of the writ of preliminary injunction against them as well as the ultimatum of the Companies giving them until June 2, 1958 to return to their jobs or else be replaced, the striking employees decided to call off their strike and to report back to work on June 2, 1958.

However, before readmitting the strikers, the Companies required them not only to secure clearances from the City Fiscal’s Office of Manila but also to be screened by a management committee among the members of which were Enage and Garcia. The screening committee initially rejected 83 strikers with pending criminal charges. However, all non-strikers with pending criminal charges which arose from the breakthrough incident were readmitted immediately by the Companies without being required to secure clearances from the fiscal’s office. Subsequently, when practically all the strikers had secured clearances from the fiscal’s office, the Companies readmitted only some but adamantly refused readmission to 34 officials and members of the Unions who were most active in the strike, on the ground that they committed “acts inimical to the interest of the respondents,” without however stating the specific acts allegedly committed. Some 24 of the above number were ultimately notified months later that they were being dismissed retroactively as of June 2, 1958 and given separation pay checks computed under Rep. Act 1787, while others (ten in number) up to now have not been readmitted although there have been no formal dismissal notices given to them.

CIR prosecutor filed a complaint for unfair labor practice against the Companies under Republic Act 875. The complaint specifically charged the Companies with (1) interfering with the members of the Unions in the exercise of their right to concerted action, by sending out individual letters to them urging them to abandon their strike and return to work, with a promise of comfortable cots, free coffee and movies, and paid overtime, and, subsequently, by warning them that if they did not return to work on or before June 2, 1958, they might be replaced; and (2) discriminating against the members of the Unions as regards readmission to work after the strike on the basis of their union membership and degree of participation in the strike.

Whether or not respondent company is guilty of ULP

YES. The act of an employer in notifying absent employees individually during a strike following unproductive efforts at collective bargaining that the plant would be operated the next day and that their jobs were open for them should they want to come in has been held to be an unfair labor practice, as an active interference with the right of collective bargaining through dealing with the employees individually instead of through their collective bargaining representatives.
Although the union is on strike, the employer is still under obligation to bargain with the union as the employees’ bargaining representative. Individual solicitation of the employees or visiting their homes, with the employer or his representative urging the employees to cease union activity or cease striking, constitutes unfair labor practice. All the above-detailed activities are unfair labor practices because they tend to undermine the concerted activity of the employees, an activity to which they are entitled free from the employer’s molestation.

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