DAVAO CITY – Militant labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) on Monday, March 7, criticized a labor arbiter’s decision to junk a complaint of some 84 dismissed workers of a Japanese-owned company in Digos City, saying it was done “partially.”
In a statement, KMU spokesperson Carlo Olalo said the National Labor Relations Commission Regional Arbitration Branch XI (NLRC RAB-XI)’s decision was unfair on behalf of the sacked workers whom they believe were illegally dismissed.
Olalo was referring to a February 11, 2016 decision signed by Labor Arbiter Franico Maskariño’s decision.
The case came after Nakayama Technology Corporation in Digos City, Davao del Sur dismissed 157 of its workers on August 3, 2015. The ceramic tile exporter promised to regularize them, but later backtracked and made them sign quitclaims and new contracts instead.
Out of the 157 workers, 84 workers did not sign their quitclaims and submitted their appeal before the NLRC.
Read: Japanese firm workers slam “illegal dismissal” of 100 colleagues
According to Olalo, those who refused to sign the documents were sacked.
“The dismissal signaled conciliation efforts by the Department of Labor and Employment which later bogged down, hence, the filing of the illegal dismissal case,” he said.
But the workers’ lost hope when in February, the NLRC ruled in favor of their employer.
In the ruling, the NLRC said “while complainants may contend that they have been employed for a continuous length of time such as their employment may be considered as regular, suffice it to say that Article 280 of the Labor Code providing that an employee who has served for at least one year shall be considered a regular employee relates only to casual employees and not to project employees.”
It also ruled that the employees are only project employees “because their employments were apparently fixed for a definite period upon completion of the specific phase or project, which was specified, determined and made known to them complainants upon their engagement.”
The sacked workers’ complained lacked merit, according to the decision.
On Monday, the erstwhile workers of Nakayama appealed before the NLRC and staged a protest against what they called an “undoubtedly partial decision.”
‘Not the first time NLRC failed us’
The labor group said that this is not the first time Maskariño ruled against the workers, as he also wrote a decision which junked a complaint filed by workers of Elmar Coco Services in 2015.
Olalo said Maskariño’s decisions make a dangerous precedent to workers’ fight against regularization, which under the law, provides that if a worker is employed for six months and one day, he or she should be considered a regular worker and claim all rights and benefits due regular status.
“This merely shows how the labor justice system in the country is skewed against the interests of the sector it should be partial to – and that is the workers. We consider this decision as a significant indictment of the labor justice system and hope that the workers will prevail upon appeal,” he added. (davaotoday.com)