Goya v. Goya Employees (G.R. No. 170054; January 21, 2013)

CASE DIGEST: GOYA, INC. v. GOYA, INC. EMPLOYEES UNION-FFW. (G.R. No. 170054; January 21, 2013).

FACTS: Petitioner Goya Inc. (Goya) hired contractual employees from PESO Resources Development Corporation (PESO). This prompted Goya, Inc. Employees Union-FFW (Union) to request for a grievance conference on the ground that the contractual workers do not belong to the categories of employees stipulated in their CBA. The Union also argued that hiring contractual employees is contrary to the union security clause embodied in the CBA.

When the matter remained unresolved, the grievance was referred to the NCMB for voluntary arbitration. The Union argued that Goya is guilty of ULP for gross violation of the CBA. The voluntary arbitrator dismissed the Unions charge of ULP but Goya was directed to observe and comply with the CBA. While the Union moved for partial consideration of the VA decision, Goya immediately filed a petition for review before the Court of Appeals to set aside the VAs directive to observe and comply with the CBA commitment pertaining to the hiring of casual employees. Goya argued that hiring contractual employees is a valid management prerogative. The Court of Appeals dismissed the petition.

ISSUE: Was the act of hiring contractual employees a valid exercise of management prerogative?

The CA did not commit serious error when it sustained the ruling that the hiring of contractual employees from PESO was not in keeping with the intent and spirit of the CBA. In this case, a complete and final adjudication of the dispute between the parties necessarily called for the resolution of the related and incidental issue of whether the Company still violated the CBA but without being guilty of ULP as, needless to state, ULP is committed only if there is gross violation of the agreement.Goya kept on harping that both the VA and the CA conceded that its engagement of contractual workers from PESO was a valid exercise of management prerogative. It is confused. To emphasize, declaring that a particular act falls within the concept of management prerogative is significantly different from acknowledging that such act is a valid exercise thereof. What the VA and the CA correctly ruled was that the Companys act of contracting out/outsourcing is within the purview of management prerogative. Both did not say, however, that such act is a valid exercise thereof. Obviously, this is due to the recognition that the CBA provisions agreed upon by Goya and the Union delimit the free exercise of management prerogative pertaining to the hiring of contractual employees.

A collective bargaining agreement is the law between the parties. A collective bargaining agreement or CBA refers to the negotiated contract between a legitimate labor organization and the employer concerning wages, hours of work and all other terms and conditions of employment in a bargaining unit. As in all contracts, the parties in a CBA may establish such stipulations, clauses, terms and conditions as they may deem convenient provided these are not contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order or public policy. Thus, where the CBA is clear and unambiguous, it becomes the law between the parties and compliance therewith is mandated by the express policy of the law.

As repeatedly held, the exercise of management prerogative is not unlimited; it is subject to the limitations found in law, collective bargaining agreement or the general principles of fair play and justice. DENIED.