Category: Legal Case Digest

PHILIPPINE BLOOMING MILLS EMPLOYMENT ORGANIZATION vs. PHILIPPINE BLOOMING MILLS CO., INC. Case Digest

G.R. No. L-31195       June 5, 1973

PHILIPPINE BLOOMING MILLS EMPLOYMENT ORGANIZATION vs. PHILIPPINE BLOOMING MILLS CO., INC.

Petitioners: Philippine Blooming Mills Employment Organization, Nicanor Tolentino, Florencio, Padrigano Rufino, Roxas Mariano de Leon, Asencion Paciente, Bonifacio Vacuna, Benjamin Pagcu and Rodulfo Munsod

Respondents: Philippine Blooming Mills Co., Inc. and Court of Industrial Relations

Ponente: J. Makasiar

Facts:

1) The petitioner Philippine Blooming Mills Employees Organization (PBMEO) is a legitimate labor union composed of the employees of the respondent Philippine Blooming Mills Co., Inc., and petitioners Nicanor Tolentino, Florencio Padrigano, Rufino Roxas, Mariano de Leon, Asencion Paciente, Bonifacio Vacuna, Benjamin Pagcu and Rodulfo Munsod are officers and members of the petitioner Union. PBMEO decided to stage a mass demonstration in front of Malacañang to express their grievances against the alleged abuses of the Pasig Police.

2) Petitioners claim that on March 1, 1969, they decided to stage a mass demonstration at Malacañang on March 4, 1969, in protest against alleged abuses of the Pasig police, to be participated in by the workers in the first shift (from 6 A.M. to 2 P.M.) as well as those in the regular second and third shifts (from 7 A.M. to 4 P.M. and from 8 A.M. to 5 P.M., respectively); and that they informed the respondent Company of their proposed demonstration.

3) The Philippine Blooming Mills Inc., called for a meeting with the leaders of the PBMEO after learning about the planned mass demonstration. During the meeting, the planned demonstration was confirmed by the union. But it was stressed out by the union that the demonstration was not a strike against the company but was in factual exercise of the laborers inalienable constitutional right to freedom of expression, freedom of speech and freedom for petition for redress of grievances.

4) The company asked them to cancel the demonstration for it would interrupt the normal course of their business which may result in the loss of revenue. This was backed up with the threat of the possibility that the workers would lose their jobs if they pushed through with the rally.

5) A second meeting took place where the company reiterated their appeal that while the workers may be allowed to participate, those from the 1st and regular shifts should not absent themselves to participate, otherwise, they would be dismissed. Since it was too late to cancel the plan, the rally took place and the officers of the PBMEO were eventually dismissed for a violation of the ‘No Strike and No Lockout’ clause of their Collective Bargaining Agreement.

6) The lower court decided in favour of Philippine Blooming Mills Co., Inc., and the officers of the PBMEO were found guilty of bargaining in bad faith. The PBMEO’s motion for reconsideration was subsequently denied by the Court of Industrial Relations for being filed two days late.

Issue:

Whether or not to regard the demonstration against police officers, not against the employer, as a violation of freedom expression in general and of their right of assembly and petition for redress of grievances

Whether or not the collective bargaining agreement is an inhibition of the rights of free expression, free assembly and petition of the employers

Held:

1) Property and property rights can be lost thru prescription; but human rights are imprescriptible. If human rights are extinguished by the passage of time, then the Bill of Rights is a useless attempt to limit the power of government and ceases to be an efficacious shield against the tyranny of officials, of majorities, of the influential and powerful, and of oligarchs — political, economic or otherwise.

The demonstration held petitioners on March 4, 1969 before Malacañang was against alleged abuses of some Pasig policemen, not against their employer, herein private respondent firm, said demonstrate was purely and completely an exercise of their freedom expression in general and of their right of assembly and petition for redress of grievances in particular before appropriate governmental agency, the Chief Executive, again the police officers of the municipality of Pasig. They exercise their civil and political rights for their mutual aid protection from what they believe were police excesses. As matter of fact, it was the duty of herein private respondent firm to protect herein petitioner Union and its members from the harassment of local police officers. It was to the interest herein private respondent firm to rally to the defense of, and take up the cudgels for, its employees, so that they can report to work free from harassment, vexation or peril and as consequence perform more efficiently their respective tasks enhance its productivity as well as profits.

2) To regard the demonstration against police officers, not against the employer, as evidence of bad faith in collective bargaining and hence a violation of the collective bargaining agreement and a cause for the dismissal from employment of the demonstrating employees, stretches unduly the compass of the collective bargaining agreement, is “a potent means of inhibiting speech” and therefore inflicts a moral as well as mortal wound on the constitutional guarantees of free expression, of peaceful assembly and of petition.

The collective bargaining agreement which fixes the working shifts of the employees, according to the respondent Court Industrial Relations, in effect imposes on the workers the “duty … to observe regular working hours.” The strain construction of the Court of Industrial Relations that a stipulated working shifts deny the workers the right to stage mass demonstration against police abuses during working hours, constitutes a virtual tyranny over the mind and life the workers and deserves severe condemnation. Renunciation of the freedom should not be predicated on such a slender ground.

The respondent company is the one guilty of unfair labor practice. Because the refusal on the part of the respondent firm to permit all its employees and workers to join the mass demonstration against alleged police abuses and the subsequent separation of the eight (8) petitioners from the service constituted an unconstitutional restraint on the freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom petition for redress of grievances, the respondent firm committed an unfair labor practice defined in Section 4(a-1) in relation to Section 3 of Republic Act No. 875, otherwise known as the Industrial Peace Act. Section 3 of Republic Act No. 8 guarantees to the employees the right “to engage in concert activities for … mutual aid or protection”; while Section 4(a-1) regards as an unfair labor practice for an employer interfere with, restrain or coerce employees in the exercise their rights guaranteed in Section Three.

The Supreme Court set aside as null and void the orders of Court of Industrial Relations. The Supreme Court also directed the re-instatement of the herein eight (8) petitioners, with full back pay from the date of their separation from the service until re-instated, minus one day’s pay and whatever earnings they might have realized from other sources during their separation from the service.