7 basic theories summarizing the Labor Code

Azucena (2013) reports that, when the Labor Code was issued in 1974, Blas F. Ople, then Minister of Labor of President Marcos, explained that there are seven innovative principles that spread throughout the entire composition of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 442 , otherwise known as the Labor Code of the Philippines, namely: national development; strikes and lockouts; speedy labor justice; bargaining power; employment and unemployment; enforcement and implementation; and, tripartism.

[1] NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT. Labor relations must be made both responsive and responsible to national development.

The State affirms labor as a primary social economic force. It shall protect the rights of workers and promote their welfare. The State also recognizes the indispensable role of the private sector, encourages private enterprise, and provides incentives to needed investments.

In a case, the Supreme Court took the opportunity to reaffirm its concern for the lowly worker who, often at the mercy of his employers, must look up to the law for his protection. Fittingly, that law regards him with tenderness and even favor and always with faith and hope in his capacity to help in shaping the nation's future. It is error to take him for granted. He deserves our abiding respect. How society treats him will determine whether the knife in his hands shall be a caring tool for beauty and progress or an angry weapon of defiance and revenge. The choice is obvious, of course. If we cherish him as we should, we must resolve to lighten "the weight of centuries" of exploitation and disdain that bends his back but does not bow his head. (G.R. No. L-58639)

[2] STRIKES AND LOCKOUTS. Labor laws or labor relations during a period of national emergency must substitute rationality for confrontation; therefore, strikes or lockouts give away to a rational process which is arbitration.

The State shall guarantee the rights of all workers to self-organization, collective bargaining and negotiations, and peaceful concerted activities, including the right to strike in accordance with law. They shall be entitled to security of tenure, humane conditions of work, and a living wage. They shall also participate in policy and decision-making processes affecting their rights and benefits as may be provided by law.

[3] SPEEDY LABOR JUSTICE. Laggard justice in the labor field is injurious to the workers, the employers and the public; labor justice can be made expeditious without sacrificing due process.

All persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of their cases before all judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative bodies. P.D. No. 1367 amending certain provisions of the Labor Code eliminated appeals to the President, but gave the President the power to assume jurisdiction over any cases which he considered national interest cases. The subsequent P.D. No. 1391, enacted "to insure speedy labor justice and further stabilize industrial peace", further eliminated appeals from the NLRC to the Secretary of Labor but the President still continued to exercise his power to assume jurisdiction over any cases which he considered national interest cases. (G.R. No. 123426)

The rationale of the law on voluntary arbitration is speedy labor justice. (G.R. No. 170054) In one case, the Supreme Court stressed that the Voluntary Arbitrator had plenary jurisdiction and authority to interpret the agreement to arbitrate and to determine the scope of his own authority subject only, in a proper case, to the certiorari jurisdiction of this Court. The Arbitrator, as already indicated, viewed his authority as embracing not merely the determination of the abstract question of whether or not a performance bonus was to be granted but also, in the affirmative case, the amount thereof. (G.R. No. 140960)

[4] BARGAINING POWER. Manpower development and employment must be regarded as a major dimension of labor policy, for there can be no real equality of bargaining power under conditions of severe mass unemployment.

The State shall guarantee the rights of all workers to self-organization, collective bargaining and negotiations, and peaceful concerted activities, including the right to strike in accordance with law. They shall be entitled to security of tenure, humane conditions of work, and a living wage. They shall also participate in policy and decision-making processes affecting their rights and benefits as may be provided by law.

It is unlawful for any person to restrain, coerce, discriminate against or unduly interfere with employees and workers in their exercise of the right to self-organization. Such right shall include the right to form, join, or assist labor organizations for the purpose of collective bargaining through representatives of their own choosing and to engage in lawful concerted activities for the same purpose or for their mutual aid and protection, subject to the provisions of Article 264 of the Labor Code.
All employees enjoy the right to self-organization and to form and join labor organizations of their own choosing for the purpose of collective bargaining and to engage in concerted activities for their mutual aid or protection. This is a fundamental right of labor that derives its existence from the Constitution. In interpreting the protection to labor and social justice provisions of the Constitution and the labor laws or rules or regulations, we have always adopted the liberal approach which favors the exercise of labor rights. In one case, it was crystal clear the monthly paid rank-and-file employees of petitioner have very little in common with its daily paid rank-and file employees in terms of duties and obligations, working conditions, salary rates, and skills. To be sure, the said monthly paid rank-and-file employees have even been excluded from the bargaining unit of the daily paid rank-and-file employees. This dissimilarity of interests warrants the formation of a separate and distinct bargaining unit for the monthly paid rank-and-file employees of the petitioner. To rule otherwise would deny this distinct class of employees the right to self-organization for purposes of collective bargaining. Without the shield of an organization, it will also expose them to the exploitations of management. (G.R. Nos. 113204-05)

[5] UNEMPLOYMENT. There is a global labor market available to qualified Filipinos, especially those who are unemployed or whose employment is tantamount to unemployment because of their very little earnings.

The State shall promote a just and dynamic social order that will ensure the prosperity and independence of the nation and free the people from poverty through policies that provide adequate social services, promote full employment, a rising standard of living, and an improved quality of life for all. The State shall afford full protection to labor, local and overseas, organized and unorganized, and promote full employment and equality of employment opportunities for all.

Unemployment brings untold hardships and sorrows on those dependent on the wage-earner. The misery and pain attendant on the los-, of jobs then could be avoided if there be acceptance of the view that under all the circumstances of this case, petitioners should not be deprived of their means of livelihood. Nor is this to condone what had been done by them. For all this while, since private respondent considered them separated from the service, they had not been paid. For the strictly juridical standpoint, it cannot be too strongly stressed . . . that where a decision may be made to rest on informed judgment rather than rigid rules, all the equities of the case must be accorded their due weight. Finally, labor law determinations should be not only secundum rationem but also secundum caritatem. (G.R. No. L-54280)

[6] ENFORCEMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION. Labor laws must command adequate resources and acquire a capable machinery for effective and sustained implementation; otherwise, they merely breed resentment not only of the workers but also of the employers. When labor laws cannot be enforced, both the employers and the workers are penalized, and only a corrupt few — those who are in charge of implementation — may get the reward they do not deserve.

The Department of Labor and other government agencies charged with the administration and enforcement of the Labor Code or any of its parts shall promulgate the necessary implementing rules and regulations. Such rules and regulations shall become effective fifteen (15) days after announcement of their adoption in newspapers of general circulation

Among other powers, the Secretary of Labor and Employment or his duly authorized representatives, including labor regulation officers, shall have access to employer’s records and premises at any time of the day or night whenever work is being undertaken therein, and the right to copy therefrom, to question any employee and investigate any fact, condition or matter which may be necessary to determine violations or which may aid in the enforcement of the Labor Code and of any labor law, wage order or rules and regulations issued pursuant thereto.

[7] TRIPARTISM. There should be popular participation in national policy-making through what is now called tripartism.

Tripartism in labor relations is a State policy. Towards this end, workers and employers shall, as far as practicable, be represented in decision and policy-making bodies of the government. The Secretary of Labor and Employment or his duly authorized representatives may, from time to time, call a national, regional, or industrial tripartite conference of representatives of government, workers and employers for the consideration and adoption of voluntary codes of principles designed to promote industrial peace based on social justice or to align labor movement relations with established priorities in economic and social development. In calling such conference, the Secretary of Labor and Employment may consult with accredited representatives of workers and employers. (Section 32. Republic Act No. 6715. March 21, 1989)

The discussion above is based on an outline by Azucena (2013). His books are available in fine bookstores nationwide. SOURCE: Azucena, C. A. (2013). The Labor Code: with Comments and Cases (Vol. 1). National Book Store. https://www.rexestore.com/labor-standards/981-the-labor-code-with-comments-and-cases-volume-i-revised-edition.html. He cites, as his primary source, Blas F. Ople's speech, Frontiers of Social and Labor Policy; Personnel Management Association of the Philippines, Proceedings of the Special Conference on the Labor Code of the Philippines, June 1974.