CASE DIGEST: Cirtek Employees v. Cirtek Electronics (2011)

G.R. No. 190515, June 06 2011




Respondent-movant avers that petitioner, in filing the petition for certiorari under Rule 65, availed of the wrong remedy, hence, the Court should have dismissed the petition outright.It goes on to aver that the Court erred in resolving a factual issue whether the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was validly entered into, which is not the office of a petition for certiorari.

Respondent-movant further avers that the MOA signed by the remaining officers of petitioner Union and allegedly gratified by its members should have been given credence by the Court.

Furthermore, respondent-movant maintains that the Secretary of Labor cannot insist on a ruling beyond the compromise agreement entered into by the parties; and that, as early as February 5, 2010, petitioner Union had already filed with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) a resolution of disaffiliation from the Federation of Free Workers resulting in the latter's lack of personality to represent the workers in the present case.

ISSUE: Whether the Secretary of Labor is empowered to give arbitral awards in the exercise of his authority to assume jurisdiction over labor disputes.


LABOR LAW: Arbitral awards, jurisdiction of the Secretary of Labor

In the present case, the findings of the Secretary of Labor and the appellate court on whether the MOA is valid and binding are conflicting, the former giving scant consideration thereon, latter affording it more and the weight.

As found by the Secretary of Labor, the MOA came about as a result of the constitution, at respondent's behest, of the Labor- Management Council (LMC) which, he reminded the parties, should not be used as an avenue for bargaining but for the purpose ofaffording workers to participate in policy and derision-making.Hence, the agreements embodied in the MOA were not the proper subject of the LMC deliberation or procedure but of CBA negotiations and, therefore, deserving little weight.

The appellate court, held, however, that the Secretary did not have the authority to give an arbitral award higher than what was stated in the MOA. The conflicting views drew the Court to re-evaluate the facts as borne by the records, an exception to the rule that only questions of law may be dealt with in an appeal by certiorari under Rule 45.

As discussed in the Decision under reconsideration, the then Acting Secretary of Labor Manuel G. Imson acted well within his jurisdiction in ruling that the wage increases to be given are P10 per day effective January 1, 2004 and P15 per day effective January 1, 2005, pursuant to his power to assume jurisdiction under Art. 263 (g) of the Labor Code.

While an arbitral award cannot per se be categorized as an agreement voluntarily entered into by the parties because it requires the interference and imposing power of the State thru the Secretary of Labor when he assumes jurisdiction, the award can be considered, as an approximation of a collective bargaining agreement which would otherwise have been entered into by the parties. Hence, it has the force and effect of a valid contract obligation between the parties.