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JACKBILT INDUSTRIES, INC., vs. JACKBILT EMPLOYEES WORKERS UNIONNAFLU-KMU (G.R. no. 171618-19) CORONA, J.

: Facts: Due to the adverse effects of the Asian economic crisis on the construction industry beginning 1997, petitioner decided to temporarily stop its business of producing concrete hollow blocks, compelling most of its employees to go on leave for six months. Respondent immediately protested the temporary shutdown. Because its collective bargaining agreement with petitioner was expiring during the period of the shutdown, respondent claimed that petitioner halted production to avoid its duty to bargain collectively. The shutdown was allegedly motivated by anti-union sentiments. Respondent went on strike. Its officers and members picketed petitioners main gates and deliberately prevented persons and vehicles from going into and out of the compound. Petitioner filed a petition for injunction with a prayer for the issuance of a TRO in the NLRC. It sought to enjoin respondent from obstructing free entry to and exit from its production facility. NLRC issued a TRO directing the respondents to refrain from preventing access to petitioners property. Respondent union violated the said TRO. Union members, on various occasions, stopped and inspected private vehicles entering and exiting petitioners production facility. NLRC ordered the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction. Petitioner sent individual memoranda to the officers and members of respondent who participated in the strike ordering them to explain why they should not be dismissed for committing illegal acts in the course of a strike. Respondent ignored petitioners memoranda despite the extensions granted. Petitioner dismissed the concerned officers and members and barred them from entering its premises. Respondent filed complaints for illegal lockout, runaway shop and damages, ULP, illegal dismissal and attorneys fees, and refusal to bargain on behalf of its officers and members against petitioner and its corporate officers. It argued that there was no basis for the temporary partial shutdown as it was undertaken by petitioner to avoid its duty to bargain collectively. Petitioner asserted that because respondent conducted a strike without observing the procedural requirements the strike was illegal. Petitioner argued that it validly dismissed respondents officers and employees for committing illegal acts in the course of a strike based on the NLRC decision.

LA dismissed the complaints for illegal lockout and unfair labor practice for lack of merit. However, because petitioner did not file a petition to declare the strike illegal before terminating respondents officers and employees, it was found guilty of illegal dismissal. NLRC, on appeal, modified the LA decision and held that only petitioner should be liable for monetary awards granted to respondents officers and members. Petitioner assailed the said NLRC decision via a petition for certiorari in the CA. It asserted that the NLRC committed grave abuse of discretion in disregarding former decision wherein respondents officers and employees were found to have committed illegal acts in the course of the strike. In view thereof and pursuant to Article 264(a)(3), petitioner validly terminated respondents officers and employees. CA dismissed the petition but modified the former NLRC decision. Because most of affected employees were union members, the CA held that the temporary shutdown was moved by anti-union sentiments. Petitioner was therefore guilty of ULP and was ordered to pay respondents officers and employees backwages and separation pay of one month salary for every year of credited service. Issue: W/N the filing of a petition with the LA to declare a strike illegal is a condition sine qua non for the valid termination of employees who commit an illegal act in the course of such strike. Ruling: Negative. Article 264(e) of the Labor Code prohibits any person engaged in picketing from obstructing the free ingress to and egress from the employers premises. Since respondent was found in the NLRC decision to have prevented the free entry into and exit of vehicles from petitioners compound, respondents officers and employees clearly committed illegal acts in the course of the strike. The use of unlawful means in the course of a strike renders such strike illegal. Therefore, pursuant to the principle of conclusiveness of judgment, the strike was ipso facto illegal. The filing of a petition to declare the strike illegal was thus unnecessary. We uphold the legality of the dismissal of respondents officers and employees. Article 264 of the Labor Code further provides that an employer may terminate employees found to have committed illegal acts in the course of a strike. Petitioner clearly had the legal right to terminate respondents officers and employees.