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345 Trans-Asia Shipping Lines v.

CA ISSUE: WON the workers should be allowed to return to their


7 July 2004 previous work/ship assignments. YES

FACTS: Trans-Asia Shipping Lines, Inc. is engaged in coastwise RATIO: Under Article 263 (g), when the DOLE Sec. assumes
shipping services. The company had 2 unions (rank-and-file and jurisdiction over a labor dispute or certifies the same to the NLRC
supervisors union). Both unions filed separate notices of strike with for compulsory arbitration, such shall have the effect of
the NCMB on the ground of ULP. To avert work stoppage, DOLE automatically enjoining the intended or impending strike or lockout.
Sec. Laguesma certified the dispute to the NLRC for compulsory If one had already taken place, all striking workers shall immediately
arbitration pursuant to Article 263(g) LC and enjoining any strike or return to work and the employer shall immediately resume
lock-out. Despite this, the unions still went on strike, paralyzing operations and readmit all workers under the same terms and
company operations. The DOLE Sec. thus issued an Order directing conditions prevailing before the strike or lockout. The powers
all striking workers "to return to work within 12 hours from receipt granted to the DOLE Sec. under Article 263 (g) have been
of this Order and for the Company to accept them back under the characterized as an exercise of the police power of the State, with the
same terms and conditions prevailing before the strike." aim of promoting public good.

Of the striking workers, 21 were dismissed by the company for The most obvious of these powers is the automatic enjoining of an
violating the directive by the DOLE Sec. not to strike. The company impending strike/lockout or the lifting thereof if one has already
consequently reinstated the 21 employees. Despite the reinstatement, taken place. Assumption of jurisdiction over a labor dispute, or as in
the company refused to issue the said employees' embarkation orders this case the certification of the same to the NLRC for compulsory
to the ship assignments they had prior to the strike. Both unions arbitration, always co-exists with an order for workers to return to
manifested their willingness to comply with the "return-to-work" work immediately and for employers to readmit all workers under
order, provided the 21 employees would also be allowed back in the the same terms and conditions prevailing before the strike or lockout.
posts they held prior to the strike. The company refused, claiming
that the phrase under the same terms and conditions prevailing The CA ruled that the phrase "under the same terms and conditions
before the strike refers only to salary grade, rank and seniority, but prevailing before the strike" could not encompass the usurpation of
cannot encompass the usurpation of management's prerogative to management's prerogative to determine where its employees are to
determine where its employees are to be assigned nor to determine be assigned. Case law recognizes the employer's right to transfer or
their job assignments assign employees from one area of operation to another. This right,
however, is not absolute but subject to limitations imposed by law.
CA: Ruled for the company. The embarkation orders could not issue Article 263 (g) LC constitutes 1 such limitation.
based on the DOLE Sec. order as it would constitute undue
interference with management prerogative. Nature of dispute subject to Art. 263(g)
As earlier opined, Article 263 (g) of the Labor Code has been
enacted pursuant to the police power of the State. Said provision of
law requires that the powers thereunder be exercised only in labor
disputes involving industries indispensable to the national interest.
That respondent's business is of national interest is not disputed. It is
engaged in coastwise shipping services for the transportation of
passengers and cargoes. The maritime industry is indubitably imbued
with national interest. Under the circumstances, the Labor Secretary
correctly intervened in the labor dispute between the parties to this
case by certifying the same to the NLRC for compulsory arbitration
and issuing the Orders pursuant to Article 263(g).

RULING: The petition is GRANTED. The CA decision is SET


ASIDE. The Order of the DOLE Secretary is AFFIRMED.