Case Digest: Leyte Geothermal Employees Union v. PNOC-EDC

G.R. No. 170351 : March 30, 2011.




Among PNOCs geothermal projects is the Leyte Geothermal Power Project located at the Greater Tongonan Geothermal Reservation inLeyte. Thus, the PNOC hired and employed hundreds of employees on a contractual basis, whereby, their employment was only good up to the completion or termination of the project and would automatically expire upon the completion of such project. Majority of the employees hired by PNOC in its Leyte Geothermal Power Projects had become members of petitioner. In view of that circumstance, the petitioner demands from the PNOC for recognition of it as the collective bargaining agent of said employees and for a CBA negotiation with it, which PNOC refused.

When the project was about to be completed, the PNOC served Notices of Termination of Employment upon the employees who are members of the petitioner. On December 28, 1998, the petitioner filed a Notice of Strike with DOLE on the ground of purported commission by the latter of unfair labor practice for "refusal to bargain collectively, union busting and mass termination." On the same day, the petitioner declared a strike and staged such strike. Efforts to settle the dispute amicably failed.

Consequently, on January 15, 1999, PNOC filed a Complaint for Strike Illegality, Declaration of Loss of Employment and Damages at the NLRC-RAB and at the same time, filed a Petition for Cancellation of Petitioners Certificate of Registration with DOLE. These were consolidated. NLRC rendered a decision in favour of respondent, which the CA affirmed.


1. Whether or not the officers and members of petitioner Union are project employees of respondent

2. Whether the officers and members of the Union engaged in an illegal strike


The petition is denied.

LABOR LAW: Project employees; legality of strike.

First issue: In accordance with Article 280 of the Labor Code, and as explained in ALU-TUCP v. NLRC, the litmus test to determine whether an individual is a project employee lies in setting a fixed period of employment involving a specific undertaking which completion or termination has been determined at the time of the particular employee's engagement. In this case, the officers and the members of petitioner Union were specifically hired as project employees for respondents Leyte Geothermal Power Project.Consequently, upon the completion of the project or substantial phase thereof, the officers and the members of petitioner Union could be validly terminated.

Petitioner Union is adamant, however, that the lack of interval in the employment contracts its officer and members negates the latter's status as mere project employees. However, petitioner Union's members employment for more than a year does not equate to their regular employment with respondent, as explained in Mercado, Sr. v. NLRC, which stated that the proviso in Article 280, deeming all those who had rendered service for more than one year as regular employees, only applies to casual employees, and not project employees.

Second issue: Article 263 of the Labor Code enumerates the requisites for holding a strike. Petitioner Union's asseverations are belied by the factual findings of the NLRC, as affirmed by the CA, which stated that "the failure to comply with the mandatory requisites for the conduct of strike is both admitted and clearly shown on record. Hence, it is undisputed that no strike vote was conducted; likewise, the cooling-off period was not observed and that the 7-day strike ban after the submission of the strike vote was not complied with since there was no strike vote taken." Petitioner Union's bare contention that it did not hold a strike cannot trump the factual findings of the NLRC that petitioner Union indeed struck against respondent

Petition is DENIED.

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