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Reliance Surety & Insurance Co., Inc vs.

NLRC (1991)
Sarmiento, J.




Facts:
Management of Reliance Surety & Insurance Co, Inc. re-arranged the sitting arrangement of its staff
to lessen non-work related conversations, personal telephone calls and non-work related
visits. Employees who were members of the union took the changes as a means of singling them out
and applying pressure on them to quit the union or to be more submissive to the company.
Union members refused to obey the new arrangement and even cursed and argued with management
for which they were disciplined and eventually dismissed. This prompted the complaint in the NLRC
against the company wherein the workers alleged unfair work practices.
While the complaint was hibernating [cooling off period] the employees staged a strike that did not
get the majority vote of the union as required. This prompted the company to file a complaint with the
NLRC because they alleged that the strike was illegal.
Labor arbiter and NLRC found the strike to be illegal but ruled that dismissal it too severe a
punishment. The company should reinstate the employees without back-pay which they deemed
punishment enough.

Doctrine:
The Company merely exercised its prerogative in assigning new seats for the benefit of the company
and it did not in any way constitute an unfair labor practice.
The strike was not only illegal but it was also violent wherein the union harassed not only
management but also other employees not on strike.
Citing Ferrer v. Almira  a violation of the cooling off period in good faith is merely a defective
strike whereas in this case the violation was done in bad faith hence the strike is illegal
Citing Bacus v. Ople  mere finding of ‘illegality’ attending the strike cannot be used to dismiss
employees who were impressed with good faith.
As a general rule the sympathy of the court is with the laboring classes BUT the court must however
take care to ensure that the results achieved are fair and in conformity with the rules. The employees
are validly dismissed because the court held that no good faith could be found in the instant case but
rather ‘plain arrogance, pride and cynicism.’

lose their employment.Gold City Integrated Port Service. The NLRC affirmed with modification the Arbiter’s decision. It held that the concerted action by the workers was more of a “protest action” than a strike. The workers who participated in the illegal strike did not. Said employees were all members of the Macajalar Labor Union — Federation of Free Workers (MLU-FFW) with whom petitioner had an existing collective bargaining agreement. 1995 Facts: Petitioner’s employees stopped working and gathered in a mass action to express their grievances regarding wages. Upon petitioner’s motion for reconsideration. in view of the strained relations between the parties. However. the Labor Arbiter held that the private respondents should similarly be allowed to return to work without having to undergo the required screening to be undertaken by their union (MLU-FFW). Hence. The strike paralyzed operations at said port. leaving herein private respondents who continued their protest. Thereafter. Private respondents. INPORT filed a complaint before the Labor Arbiter for Illegal Strike with prayer for a restraining order/preliminary injunction. The strikers filed individual notices of strike (“Kaugalingon nga Declarasyon sa Pag-Welga”) with the then Ministry of Labor and Employment. For not having complied with the formal requirements in Article 264 of the Labor Code. 103560 July 6. After noting that petitioner accepted the other striking employees back to work. The Commission ruled that since private respondents were not actually terminated from service. majority of the strikers returned to work. including the six union officers. With the failure of conciliation conferences between petitioner and the strikers. thirteenth month pay and hazard pay. however. The National Labor Relations Commission issued a temporary restraining order. it awarded six months’ salary as separation pay or financial . the strike staged by petitioner’s workers on April 30. Inc (INPORT) vs. there was no basis for reinstatement. As regards the six private respondents who were union officers. NLRC GR No. 1985 was found by the Labor Arbiter to be illegal. the Labor Arbiter ruled that they could not have possibly been “duped or tricked” into signing the strike notice for they were active participants in the conciliation meetings and were thus fully aware of what was going on. separation pay was awarded in lieu of reinstatement. said union officers should be accepted back to work after seeking reconsideration from herein petitioner. Petitioner was engaged in stevedoring and arrastre services at the port of Cagayan de Oro. since there was no evidence that they participated in illegal acts. should also be allowed to work unconditionally to avoid discrimination. public respondent modified the above resolution. However.

A union officer who knowingly participates in an illegal strike and any worker or union officer who knowingly participates in the commission of illegal acts during a strike may be declared to have lost their employment status. back to work. 13 is defined as any temporary stoppage of work by the concerted action of employees as a result of an industrial or labor dispute. INPORT accepted the majority of the striking workers. including union officers. maintaining. However.000. fixing. regardless of whether or not the disputants stand in the proximate relation of employers and employees. There must be proof that he committed illegal acts during a strike. . Neither did the striking workers observe the strike vote by secret ballot. while the union members may thus be entitled under the law to be reinstated or to receive separation pay. can only be granted if sufficient bases exist under the law. cooling-off period and reporting requirements. Ratio: A strike. The complaint before the Labor Arbiter involved the legality of said strike. considered as the most effective weapon of labor. The Arbiter correctly ruled that the strike was illegal for failure to comply with the requirements of Article 264 (now Article 263) paragraphs (c) and (f) of the Labor Code. Private respondents were left to continue with the strike after they refused to submit to the “screening” required by the company. compensation equivalent to P1. 20An ordinary striking worker cannot be terminated for mere participation in an illegal strike. In the case at bench. their expulsion from the union in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement renders the same impossible. What transpired then was clearly a strike.” The award for backwages was also deleted for lack of factual and legal basis. for the cessation of work by concerted action resulted from a labor dispute. and like other workers. 16 The individual notices of strike filed by the workers did not conform to the notice required by the law to be filed since they were represented by a union (MLU-FFW) which even had an existing collective bargaining agreement with INPORT. 14 A labor dispute includes any controversy or matter concerning terms or conditions of employment or the association or representation of persons in negotiating. 15 Private respondents and their co-workers stopped working and held the mass action on April 30. A union officer.assistance in the nature of “equitable relief. separation pay. Issue: Whether separation pay and backwages be awarded by public respondent NLRC to participants of an illegal strike? Held: Reinstatement and backwages or. if no longer feasible. 1985 to press for their wages and other benefits. In lieu of backwages. when he commits an illegal act during a strike.00 was given. changing or arranging the terms and conditions of employment. particularly after a showing of illegal dismissal. may be terminated from work when he knowingly participates in an illegal strike. on the other hand.

Under Article 264 of the Labor Code. 103560 (“Gold City Integrated Port Service Inc. et al. an illegal strike which. National Labor Relations Commission.”) is DISMISSED for lack of merit. The fate of private respondent-union officers is different. therefore.R. even after most of their co-workers had returned to work. It is only when he commits illegal acts during a strike that he may be declared to have lost his employment status. Their continued participation in said strike. 35 Moreover. . considering that a decade has already lapsed from the time the disputed strike occurred. more often than not. No costs. Their insistence on unconditional reinstatement or separation pay and backwages is unwarranted and unjustified. 103599 (“Adelo Ebuna. still it cannot be gainsaid that it possessed the right and prerogative to terminate the union officers from service. The striking union members among private respondents are thus entitled to reinstatement. the law mandates that a union officer may be terminated from employment. Since there appears no proof that these union members committed illegal acts during the strike. One month salary for each year of service until 1985 is awarded to private respondents who were not union officers as separation pay.R. 34 Notwithstanding the fact that INPORT previously accepted other union officers and that the screening required by it was uncalled for. in using the word may. Dispositive: WHEREFORE.”) is GRANTED. et al. The petition in G. No. The law. they cannot be dismissed. not entitled to any relief. National Labor Relations Commission. the petition in G. The union officers are. v. No. from the foregoing premises. v. brings about unnecessary economic disruption and chaos in the workplace should not be countenanced by a relaxation of the sanctions prescribed by law. grants the employer the option of declaring a union officer who participated in an illegal strike as having lost his employment. et al. we find that to award separation pay in lieu of reinstatement would be more practical and appropriate. For knowingly participating in an illegal strike. a worker merely participating in an illegal strike may not be terminated from his employment. However. there being no just cause for their dismissal. No backwages will be awarded to private respondent-union members as a penalty for their participation in the illegal strike. can hardly be rewarded by such an award.