Four workers won their illegal dismissal case against Daeduck Philippines, Inc. (DDPI) before the National Labor Relations Commission Regional Arbitration Branch IV in Calamba City, Laguna on January 29, is now reported by the Philippines labour rights group Workers Assistance Center.

Four workers won their illegal dismissal case against Dae Duck Phils., Inc. (DDPI) before the National Labor Relations Commission Regional Arbitration Branch IV (NLRC-RAB IV) in Calamba City, Laguna on January 29, 2016.

DDPI terminated its four workers namely Percival Lazaro, Luisito Malveda, Fernando Perez, and Danny Domasin on January 16, 2015 as part of the supposed downsizing of the said company “due to continuous reduction of order”. However, said DDPI workers who started working since the start of operation of the company in March 1996, felt that something was amiss in their separation from the company. They approached the Workers’ Assistance Center (WAC) for legal assistance.

The four pioneer workers started as production operators and were later promoted as technician and senior supervisor. But before their termination, DDPI management offered a Voluntary Separation Program (VSP) from December 1-6, 2014 to prevent inevitable losses due to the reduced job orders according to the management.

The management told interested workers to apply for the VSP. About 80 workers applied but only 40 were approved by the management. Workers approved for the VSP received payment equivalent to 100% of their existing salary rate and considered resigned before the year ended.

The management cut its manpower further in the succeeding year by terminating 14 more workers where Lazaro and company were included.

But, the downsizing puzzled the complaining workers because before the announcement of the VSP and retrenchment, the management regularized 50 contractual workers in May 2014.

In addition, the management renovated the comfort rooms and hallway in the production area sometime in the second quarter of 2014 while a painting job on the floor was also done and the traditional treat by the management to its managers also happened in December of the same year.

Likewise, according to the complainants, if production shrunk due to reduced orders, why did the management hire an additional 40 contractual workers in April 2015 and replace their vacated positions immediately with the  officers of the FUR-TUCP affiliated union.

The complainants also pointed out that if production shrunk, why they had to be terminated if they are not production operators but technicians and supervisors for building and production maintenance? They also argued that the management should have reduced the approximately 300 contractual workers first before terminating regular workers.

Dismissal due to union activities

The workers, however, were convinced that they were terminated because of their support to the independent union – Daeduck Employees Union’s (DEU), bid to challenge the existing union – Daeduck Employees Union-Federation of Union of Rizal (DEU-FUR-TUCP), to a certification election.

According to Lazaro, the late HR manager was accusing them that they were advisers of DEU-Independent after they refused to withdraw their signatures in the Petition for Certification Election (PCE).

The FUR-TUCP affiliated union in DDPI last concluded a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the management in 2009. And, on June 2014, during the freedom period, DEU-Independent filed for a PCE.

The complainants witnessed how vocal the management was that no certification election (CE) between FUR-TUCP and DEU-Independent will happen in the company.

They also saw the utter favor given by the management to FUR-TUCP after it allowed the officers of the said union to talk with and intimidate other employees to withdraw their support for the petition of DEU-Independent using company time.

Because of the retraction made by the intimidated workers the petition was dismissed based on the grounds of insufficient petition signatures. The case is still on appeal before the Court of Appeals (CA).

Due to the junked PCE of DEU-Independent, DDPI management and FUR-TUCP hurriedly sealed a CBA even if there was still an unresolved issue of representation.

Clearly, DDPI’s motive to terminate selected and hire additional workers from 2014-2015 justify workers claims that it was in preparation if DEU’s PCE was granted.

DDPI violated law… again!

Even though the management faithfully complied with substantive and procedural requirements of the law regarding retrenchment, Arbiter Danna Castillon of NLRC-RAB IV, ruled that the management failed to prove that the retrenchment was necessary for the company to prevent losses.

The management only presented as evidence, a comparative graph showing reduced orders instead of an audited income statement done by an external auditor.

Worse, according to the arbiter, the management did not adopt any other cost-saving measures before the retrenchment was done. Retrenchment should be a measure of last resort for the company according to law.

The management also did not set any fair and reasonable criteria in ascertaining who would be retrenched.

Thus, the arbiter declared the retrenchment illegal and the workers were illegally dismissed from their work.

The arbiter ordered DDPI to reinstate the workers to their previous positions without loss of seniority rights. Further, the management was also ordered to pay the complainants their backwages totaling to P703,612.50. The amount that each complainant already received from the supposed separation pay shall be deducted from the award granted to them.

Since 2011, the DDPI has been having its day at the labor court and even in the higher appellate court for a series of illegal dismissals and regularization cases filed by contractual workers serving the company for a year and more  and also illegal dismissal cases of regular workers such as the case of Lazaro et. Al.  Majority of these cases got a favorable decision from the labor arbiters of the national labor relations court.

This particular case also reveals DDPI management’s “special”  favor to the FUR-TUCP affiliated union while denying its workers to choose between FUR-TUCP and DEU-Independent to represent them in a CBA.

DDPI is a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) manufacturer for electronics and automotive industry operating inside the Cavite Economic Zone (CEZ) in Rosario, Cavite. Its main buyer is Continental-Germany. It started its operation in 1996 and as of November 2014 have 325 rank-and-file workers  and 92 supervisorial and managerial staff. The DDPI’s regular workforce is augmented by an average of 280-300 contractual workers supplied by Maximum Solutions Corporation (MSC) depending on work exigencies.

In 2014, MSC was declared as a labor-only contractor by the NLRC Commission along with the closed Silver Peak Manpower Corporation (SPMC) when more than 30 contractual workers won their regularization case against DDPI that they filed in 2011.