Loss of Employment as Punishment for Violation of Return-to-Work Order

A return-to-work order is a "statutory part and parcel" of the Secretary's assumption or certification order. Article 263 (g) succinctly provides that: ... Such assumption or certification shall have the effect of automatically enjoining the intended or impending strike or lockout as specified in the assumption or certification order. If one has already taken place at the time of assumption or certification, all striking or locked out employees shall immediately return to work and the employer resume operations and readmit all workers under the same terms and conditions prevailing before the strike or lockout. Thus, following an assumption or certification order, returning to work, on the part of a worker, is "not a matter of option or voluntariness but of obligation."
The sanction for failure to comply with such obligation, under the law, is loss of employment status. Case law likewise provides that by staging a strike after the assumption of jurisdiction or certification for arbitration, workers forfeited their right to be readmitted to work, having abandoned their employment, and so could be validly replaced. (Marcopper Mining Corporation vs. Jose Brillantes, G.R. No. 119381, March 11, 1996)

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