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263 Club Filipino v.

Bautista

G.R. No. 168406, July 13, 2009


TOPIC: Strikes and Lockouts

AUTHOR:
NOTES: (if applicable)

PONENTE:
FACTS: (chronological order)
1. Petitioner Club Filipino, Inc. (the company) is a non-stock, non profit corporation duly formed, organized and
existing under Philippine laws, with petitioner Atty. Roberto F. de Leon as its president. Respondents Ronnie
Sualog, Joel Calida, Johnny Arinto and Roberto de Guzman, on the other hand, were former officers and members
of the Club Filipino Employees Association (the union).
2. The union and the company had a CBA which expired on May 31, 2000. Prior to the expiration of the CBA and
within the freedom period, the union made several demands for negotiation but the company replied that it could
not muster a quorum, thus no CBA negotiations could be held.
3. Sometime in 2000, the union submitted its formal CBA proposal to the companys negotiating panel and
repeatedly asked for the start of negotiations. No negotiations, however, took place for various reasons proffered
by the company, among them the illness of the chairman of the management panel.
4. In order to compel the company to negotiate, respondents, as officers of the union, filed a request for preventive
mediation with the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB). Their strategy, however, failed to bring
the management to the negotiating table. The union and management only met on April 5, 2001, but the meeting
concluded with a declaration by both parties of a deadlock in their negotiations.
5. On April 6, 2001, the union filed a notice of strike with the NCMB on the grounds of bargaining deadlock and
failure to bargain. On April 22, 2001, the company formally responded to the demands of the union when it
submitted the first part of its economic counter-proposal; the second part was submitted on May 11, 2001.
6. Meanwhile, on May 4, 2001, the union conducted a strike vote under the supervision of the Department of
Labor and Employment.
7. In response to the companys counter-proposal, the union sent the company its improved proposal, but the
company refused to improve on its offer. This prompted the union to stage a strike on May 26, 2001 on the ground
of a CBA bargaining deadlock.
8. On May 31, 2001, the company filed before the NLRC a petition to declare the strike illegal. The company further
prayed that all union officers who participated in the illegal strike be considered separated from the service.
9. In a decision the labor arbiter declared the strike "procedurally [infirm] and therefore illegal."5 The labor arbiter
noted that the union failed to attach its written CBA proposal and the companys counter-proposal to the notice of
strike and to provide proof of a request for a conference to settle the dispute. Thus, the notice to strike was deemed
not to have been filed and the strike illegal. As a consequence, all the officers of the union were deemed terminated
from service. However, these employees were entitled to separation pay equivalent to that granted to employees
affected by the retrenchment program which the company had earlier launched.
ISSUE(S): whether or not the strike staged by respondents on May 26, 2001 was legal.
HELD: Yes.
DISPOSITIVE PORTION: WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. Costs against petitioners. SO
ORDERED.
RATIO:

Rule XXII, Section 4 of the Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code states:
In cases of bargaining deadlocks, the notice shall, as far as practicable, further state the unresolved issues in the
bargaining negotiations and be accompanied by the written proposals of the union, the counter-proposals of the
employer and the proof of a request for conference to settle differences. In cases of unfair labor practices, the
notice shall, as far as practicable, state the acts complained of, and efforts taken to resolve the dispute amicably.
Any notice which does not conform with the requirements of this and the foregoing section shall be deemed as
not having been filed and the party concerned shall be so informed by the regional branch of the Board.
In the instant case, the union cannot be faulted for its omission. The union could not have attached the counterproposal of the company in the notice of strike it submitted to the NCMB as there was no such counter-proposal.

To recall, the union filed a notice of strike on April 6, 2001 after several requests to start negotiations proved
futile. It was only on April 22, 2001, or after two weeks, when the company formally responded to the union by
submitting the first part of its counter-proposal. Worse, it took the company another three weeks to complete it
by submitting on May 11, 2001 the second part of its counter-proposal. This was almost a year after the
expiration of the CBA sought to be renewed.
The Implementing Rules use the words "as far as practicable." In this case, attaching the counter-proposal of the
company to the notice of strike of the union was not practicable. It was absurd to expect the union to produce the
companys counter-proposal which it did not have. One cannot give what one does not have. Indeed, compliance
with the requirement was impossible because no counter-proposal existed at the time the union filed a notice of
strike. The law does not exact compliance with the impossible. Nemo tenetur ad impossibile.
Another error committed by the labor arbiter was his declaration that respondents, as union officers,
automatically severed their employment with the company due to the alleged illegal strike. In the first place,
there was no illegal strike. Moreover, it is hornbook doctrine that a mere finding of the illegality of the strike
should not be automatically followed by the wholesale dismissal of the strikers from employment.
The law is clear:
Any union officer who knowingly participates in an illegal strike and any worker or union officer who
knowingly participates in the commission of illegal acts during a strike may be declared to have lost his
employment status.
Note that the verb "participates" is preceded by the adverb "knowingly." This reflects the intent of the legislature
to require "knowledge" as a condition sine qua non before a union officer can be dismissed from employment for
participating in an illegal strike. The provision is worded in such a way as to make it very difficult for employers
to circumvent the law by arbitrarily dismissing employees in the guise of exercising management prerogative.
This is but one aspect of the States constitutional and statutory mandate to protect the rights of employees to
self-organization.
Nowhere in the ruling of the labor arbiter can we find any discussion of how respondents, as union officers,
knowingly participated in the alleged illegal strike. Thus, even assuming arguendo that the strike was illegal,
their automatic dismissal had no basis
CASE LAW/ DOCTRINE:
DISSENTING/CONCURRING OPINION(S):