Case Digest: Solid Bank Corp. v. Gamier, Condevillamar, et al.

G.R. No. 159460 & 159461: November 15, 2010
SOLIDBANK CORPORATION (now known as FIRST METRO INVESTMENT CORPORATION), Petitioner,
vs.
ERNESTO U. GAMIER, ELENA R. CONDEVILLAMAR, JANICE L. ARRIOLA and OPHELIA C. DE GUZMAN,Respondents.

FACTS:

Solidbank and Solidbank Employees Union were renegotiating their CBA. But since there was a a deadlock, the Union filed a Notice of Strike. Because of the impending strike, the DOLE assumed jurisdiction over the labor dispute and directed Solidbank to deduct a certain percentage off the lump sum payment of the employees. The DOLE also ordered the Union from committing any acts that might exacerbate the situation. Dissatisfied, the Union filed a Motion for Reconsideration and decided to protest by holding a rally in front of the Office of the Secretary of Labor. The employees did not work for 3 days, and Solidbank issued a Memorandum that those who did not go back to work will be terminated.

The terminated employees filed a case of illegal dismissal before two arbiters the first one ruled in favour of employees, and the second ruled in favour of Solidbank. Both parties appealed to the NLRC which declared that the dismissal was illegal. Solid bank appealed to the CA, but it also ruled that the dismissal was illegal. Solidbank now institutes the current petition for review on certiorari.

ISSUES:

1. Whether the rally violated the Order of the DOLE.

2. Whether the employees were validly terminated.

3. Whether the employees are entitled to separation pay.


HELD:

Petition partly granted

Labor Law: Strikes

The rally violated the Order of the DOLE. Article 212 of the Labor Code, as amended, defines strike as any temporary stoppage of work by the concerted action of employees as a result of an industrial or labor dispute. The fact that the conventional term "strike" was not used by the striking employees to describe their common course of action is inconsequential, since the substance of the situation, and not its appearance, will be deemed to be controlling. The Supreme Court has consistently ruled that once the Secretary of Labor assumes jurisdiction, it should not be interfered with the application of the coercive processes of a strike or lock-out.

For knowingly participating in an illegal strike or participating in the commission of illegal acts during a strike, the law provides that a union officer may be terminated from employment. However, a worker merely participating in an illegal strike may not be terminated from employment. It is only when he commits illegal acts during a strike that he may be declared to have lost employment. The officers are validly dismissed, and the employees are reinstated.

With respect to backwages, the principle of a "fair days wage for a fair days labor" remains as the basic factor in determining the award thereof. If there is no work performed by the employee there can be no wage or pay unless, of course, the laborer was able, willing and ready to work but was illegally locked out, suspended or dismissed or otherwise illegally prevented from working. The dismissed officers are entitled to separation pay.

Corporate Law: Separate Juridical Personality

The president of Solidbank should not be held liable. It is basic that a corporation is invested by law with a personality separate and distinct from those of the persons composing it as well as from that of any other legal entity to which it may be related. Mere ownership by a single stockholder or by another corporation of all or nearly all of the capital stock of a corporation is not of itself sufficient ground for disregarding the separate corporate personality.

Respondents have not satisfactorily proven that Vistan and Mendoza acted with malice, ill-will or bad faith. Hence, said individual petitioners are not liable for the separation pay of herein respondents-union members.

Union officers are dismissed. All others are reinstated.

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