Retirement & Employment Status

Finally, petitioner asserts since the employees have retired, as a consequence of which no employee-employer relationship exists anymore between it and the employees, private respondent no longer had the personality to file the complaint for them.

Petitioner's contention in untenable. Retirement results from a voluntary agreement between the employer and the employee whereby the latter after reaching a certain age agrees to sever his employment with the former. The very essence of retirement is the termination of the employer-employee relationship.

Hence, the retirement of an employee does not, in itself, affect his employment status especially when it involves all rights and benefits due to him, since these must be protected as though there had been no interruption of service. It must be borne in mind that the retirement scheme was part of the employment package and the benefits to be derived therefrom constituted, as it were, a continuing consideration for services rendered, as well as an effective inducement for remaining with the corporation. It is intended to help the employee enjoy the remaining years of his life, releasing him from the burden of worrying for his financial support, and are a form of reward for his loyalty.
When the retired employees were requesting that their retirement benefits be granted, they were not pleading for generosity but were merely demanding that their rights, as embodied in the CBA, be recognized. Thus, when an employee has retired but his benefits under the law or the CBA have not yet been given, he still retains, for the purpose of prosecuting his claims, the status of an employee entitled to the protection of the Labor Code, one of which is the protection of the labor union. In Esso Philippines, Inc. v. Malayang Manggagawa sa Esso (MME), the Supreme Court recognized that while the individual complainants are the real party m interest in issues involving monetary claims and benefits, the union, however, is not denied its right to sue on behalf of its members, thus:

The Supreme Court see no legal impediments to considering this particular matter of retirement benefits to be within the ambit of Our consistent holding that when it comes to individual benefits accruing to members of a union from a favorable final judgment of any court, the members themselves become the real parties in interest and it is for them, rather than for the union, to accept or reject individually the fruits of the litigation. In the case at bar, the representations of the MME which may result in prejudice to the interests of any of its individual members in the final judgment being sought to be executed should yield to the individual decisions of the said members themselves, who are free to choose whichever position suits their conscience. (G.R. No. 118069; November 16, 1998)