Labor Disputes

“Labor dispute” – includes any controversy or matter concerning terms and conditions of employment or the association or representation of persons in negotiating, fixing, maintaining, changing or arranging the terms and conditions of employment, regardless of whether the disputants stand in the proximate relation of employer and employee.

1. Concept

“Labor dispute” – includes any controversy or matter concerning terms and conditions of employment or the association or representation of persons in negotiating, fixing, maintaining, changing or arranging the terms and conditions of employment, regardless of whether the disputants stand in the proximate relation of employer and employee. (Article 219[l], P.D. 442, Labor Code)

a. Legal basis

(l) “Labor dispute” includes any controversy or matter concerning terms and conditions of employment or the association or representation of persons in negotiating, fixing, maintaining, changing or arranging the terms and conditions of employment, regardless of whether the disputants stand in the proximate relation of employer and employee. (Article 219[l], P.D. 442, Labor Code)

b. Term: “regardless of whether the disputants stand in the proximate relation of employer and employee”

SAN MIGUEL CORPORATION EMPLOYEES UNION-PTGWO v. BERSAMIRA, G.R. No. 87700, 13 June 1990

⦁ A “labor dispute” as defined in Article 212 (1) of the Labor Code includes “any controversy or matter concerning terms and conditions of employment or the association or representation of persons in negotiating, fixing, maintaining, changing, or arranging the terms and conditions of employment, regardless of whether the disputants stand in the proximate relation of employer and employee.”

⦁ While it is SanMig’s submission that no employer-employee relationship exists between itself, on the one hand, and the contractual workers of Lipercon and D’Rite on the other, a labor dispute can nevertheless exist “regardless of whether the disputants stand in the proximate relationship of employer and employee” (Article 212 [1], Labor Code, supra) provided the controversy concerns, among others, the terms and conditions of employment or a “change” or “arrangement” thereof (Ibid). Put differently, and as defined by law, the existence of a labor dispute is not negative by the fact that the plaintiffs and defendants do not stand in the proximate relation of employer and employee.

⦁ That a labor dispute, as defined by the law, does exist herein is evident. At bottom, what the Union seeks is to regularize the status of the employees contracted by Lipercon and D’Rite in effect, that they be absorbed into the working unit of SanMig. This matter definitely dwells on the working relationship between said employees vis-à-vis SanMig. Terms, tenure and conditions of their employment and the arrangement of those terms are thus involved bringing the matter within the purview of a labor dispute. Further, the Union also seeks to represent those workers, who have signed up for Union membership, for the purpose of collective bargaining. SanMig, for its part, resists that Union demand on the ground that there is no employer-employee relationship between it and those workers and because the demand violates the terms of their CBA. Obvious then is that representation and association, for the purpose of negotiating the conditions of employment are also involved. In fact, the injunction sought by SanMig was precisely also to prevent such representation. Again, the matter of representation falls within the scope of a labor dispute. Neither can it be denied that the controversy below is directly connected with the labor dispute already taken cognizance of by the NCMB-DOLE (NCMB-NCR- NS-01- 021-89; NCMB NCR NS-01-093-83).

⦁ Whether or not the Union demands are valid; whether or not SanMig’s contracts with Lipercon and D’Rite constitute “labor-only” contracting and, therefore, a regular employer-employee relationship may, in fact, be said to exist; whether or not the Union can lawfully represent the workers of Lipercon and D’Rite in their demands against SanMig in the light of the existing CBA; whether or not the notice of strike was valid and the strike itself legal when it was allegedly instigated to compel the employer to hire strangers outside the working unit; — those are issues the resolution of which call for the application of labor laws, and SanMig’s cause’s of action in the Court below are inextricably linked with those issues.

⦁ As the case is indisputably linked with a labor dispute, jurisdiction belongs to the labor tribunals…

2. Test

The test of whether a controversy comes within the definition of “labor dispute” depends on whether the controversy involves or concerns “terms, tenure or condition of employment” or “representation.” (FEATI University v. Bautista, En Banc, G.R. No. L-21278, 21462, and 21500, 27 December 1966)

References

Book V, Presidential Decree No. 442, a.k.a. Labor Code of the Philippines

Book V, Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code

/Updated: February 8, 2023

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