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The Insular Life Assurance Co., Ltd.

,
Employees Association - NATU, FGU
Insurance Group Workers and Employees
Association - NATU, and Insular Life
Building Employees Association - NATU,
petitioners
vs.
The Insular Life Assurance Co., Ltd., FGU
Insurance Group, Jose M. Olbes, and Court
of Industrial Relations, respondents.
G.R. No. L-25291, January 20, 1971

The CIR prosecutor filed a complaint for unfair


labor
practice
against
the
Companies,
specifically (1) interfering with the members of
the Unions in the exercise of their right to
concerted action; and (2) discriminating
against the members of the Unions as regards
readmission to work after the strike on the
basis of their union membership and degree of
participation in the strike. After the trial, the
Court of Industrial Relations dismissed the
Unions complaint for lack of merit.

FACTS:

ISSUES:

The Insular Life Assurance Co., Ltd., Employees


Association - NATU, FGU Insurance Group
Workers and Employees Association - NATU,
and Insular Life Building Employees Association
- NATU (herein referred to as the Unions), while
still members of the Federation of Free Workers
(FFW), entered into separate collective
bargaining agreements with the Insular Life
Assurance Co., Ltd., and the FGU Insurance
Group (herein referred to as the Companies).
Two of the lawyers and officers of the Unions
namely Felipe Enaje and Ramon Garcia, tried to
dissuade the Unions from disaffiliating with the
FFW and joining the National Association of
Trade Unions (NATU), to no avail. Enaje and
Garcia soon left the FFW and secured
employment with the Anti-Dummy Board of the
Department of Justice and were thereafter
hired by the companies - Garcia as assistant
corporate secretary and legal assistant, and
Enaje as personnel manager and chairman of
the negotiating panel for the Companies in the
collective bargaining with the Unions.
On October 1957, negotiations for the
collective bargaining was conducted but
resulted to a deadlock. From April 25 to May 6,
1958, the parties negotiated on the labor
demands but with no satisfactory results due to
the stalemate on the matter of salary
increases. This prompted the Unions to declare
a strike in protest against what they considered
the Companies unfair labor practices. On May
20, 1958, the Unions went on strike and
picketed the offices of the Insular Life Building
at Plaza Moraga.
On May 21, Jose M. Olbes, the acting manager
and president, sent individual letters to the
striking employees urging them to abandon
their strike with a promise of free coffee,
movies, overtime pay, and accommodations.
He also warned the strikers if they fail to return
to work by a certain date, they might be
replaced in their jobs. Further, the Companies
hired men to break into the picket lines
resulting in violence, and the filing of criminal
charges against some union officers and
members. When eventually, the strikers called
off their strike to return to their jobs, they were
subjected to a screening process by a
management committee, among the members
were Garcia and Enaje. After screening, eightythree (83) strikers were rejected due to
pending criminal charges, and adamantly
refused readmission of thirty-four (34) officials
and members of the Unions who were most
active in the strike.

I.

Whether or not the Companies are


guilty of unfair labor practice when
they sent individual letters to the
strikers with the promise of
additional benefits, and notifying
them to either return to work, or
lose their jobs; and

II.

Whether or not the Companies are


guilty of unfair labor practice for
discriminating against the striking
members
of
the
Unions
in
readmission of employees after the
strike.

HELD:
First issue. The Companies contended that by
sending those letters, it constituted a
legitimate exercise of their freedom of
expression. That contention is untenable. The
Companies are guilty of unfair labor practice
when they sent individual letters to the
strikers. It is an act of interference with the
right to collective bargaining through dealing
with the strikers individually instead of through
their collective bargaining representatives.
Although the Unions are on strike, the
employer is still obligated to bargain with the
union
as
the
employees
bargaining
representative. Further, it is also an act of
interference for the employer to send
individual letters to the employees notifying
them to return to their jobs, otherwise, they
would be replaced. Individual solicitation of the
employees urging them to cease union activity
or cease striking consists of unfair labor
practice. Furthermore, when the Companies
offered
to
bribe
the
strikers
with
comfortable cots, free coffee, and movies,
overtime work pay so they would abandon
their strike and return to work, it was guilty of
strike-breaking and/or union busting which
constitute unfair labor practice.
Second Issue. Some of the members of the
Unions were refused readmission because they
had pending criminal charges. However,
despite the fact they were able to secure
clearances, 34 officials and members were still
refused readmission on the alleged ground that
they
committed
acts
inimical
to
the
Companies. It should be noted, however, that
non-strikers who also had criminal charges
pending against them in the fiscals office,
arising from the same incidents whence
against the criminal charges against the
strikers are involved, were readily readmitted
and were not required to secure clearances.
This is an act of discrimination practiced by the
Companies in the process of rehiring and is

therefore a violation of Sec. 4(a)(4) of the


Industrial Peace Act.
The respondent Companies did not merely
discriminate against all strikers in general since
they separated the active rom the less active

unionists on the basis of their militancy, or lack


of it, on the picket lines. Discrimination exists
where the record shows that the union activity
of the rehired strikers has been less prominent
than that of the strikers who were denied
reinstatement.