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G.R. Nos 158798-99 19 October 2007

FACTS: The Union is the sole and exclusive bargaining agent of all Toyota rank and file employees. After the holding of a certification election, and the issuance of an Order certifying the Union as the sole and exclusive bargaining agent of all the Toyota rank and file employees, Toyota challenged said Order via appeal to the DOLE Secretary. Thus, Toyota refused to negotiate CBAs with the Union pending said appeal. The Unions subsequent notice to strike was converted into a preventive mediation case. The 21 February 2001 hearing on the exclusion of the votes of alleged supervisory employees from the votes cast during the certification election was cancelled and reset to the next day The Union requested that its members be absent on 22 February, but the same was denied. Despite said denal, more than 200 employees staged mass actions on 22 and 23 February in front of the BLR and DOLE offices, to protest the partisan and anti-union stance of Toyota. Due to the loss of the said number of employees, Toyota experienced losses due to inability to meet production goals. Soon thereafter, Toyota sent individual letters to some 360 employees requiring them to explain within 24 hours why they should not be dismissed for their obstinate defiance of the companys directives. The letters specifically cited the Companys Code of Conduct wherein inciting or participating in riots, disorders, alleged strikes, or concerted actions detrimental to Toyotas interest wherein the first offense would amount to dismissal. In response to the letters, the Union circulated a Manifesto which urged its members to participate in a strike/picket and to abandon their posts. The Union members explained that their refusal to work on their scheduled work time for two consecutive days was simply an exercise of their constitutional right to peaceably assemble and to petition the government for redress of grievances. On 16 March 2001, Toyota terminated 227 employees for participation in concerted actions in violation of its Code of Conduct and for misconduct under Article 282 of the Labor Code. In reaction to the dismissal of its union members and officers, the Union went on strike on 17 March, 28 March ad 12 April. In the latter dates, the Union intensified its strike by barricading the gates of Toyotas Bicutan and Sta. Rosa plants. The strikers prevented workers who reported for work from entering the plants. ISSUE(S): 1. Whether the mass actions committed by the Union on different occasions are illegal strikes; and 2. Whether separation pay should be awarded to the Union members who participated in the illegal strikes. HELD:

1. Yes. The alleged protest rallies in front of the offices of BLR and DOLE Secretary and at the Toyota plants constituted illegal strikes. Even if the Union claims that the said acts were not strikes, there was a lack of permit from the City of Manila to hold rallies, nor we re there any filing of a notice in the two-day walk-out. Shrouded by demonstrations, they were in reality temporary stoppages of work perpetrated through the converted action of the employees who deliberately failed to report for work on the convenient excuse that they will hold a rally at the BLR and DOLE offices in Intramuros, Manila. It is obvious that the real and ultimate goal of the Union is to coerce Toyota to finally acknowledge the Union as the sole bargaining agent of the company. This is not a legal and valid exercise of the right of assembly and to demand redress of grievance. A valid strike should comply with the prerequisites under Article 263 of the Labor Code. These requisites were not complied with by the Union. Furthermore, the February 2001 strikes are in blatant violation of Toyotas Code of Conduct to which the Union and its members are bound to. To make matters worse, the barricade done during the March and April strikes are in palpable violation of Article 264(e) of the Labor Code, which proscribes acts of violence, coercion, or intimidation, or which obstruct the free ingress to and egress from the company premises. 2. No. There can be no good faith in intentionally incurring absences in a collective fashion from work just to attend DOLE hearings. The Union members should know from common sense that the company will incur substantial amounts of losses. In a slew of cases, the Court refrained from awarding separation pay or financial assistance to union officers and members who were separated from service due to their participation in or commission of illegal acts during strikes.