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SC rules pregnant pilot was illegally dismissed over labor strike

/ 04:00 PM February 05, 2016

The Supreme Court on Friday ruled that a pregnant pilot was illegally dismissed by the Philippine Airlines (PAL) in 1998.

In a 36-page decision made public Friday, the high court’s First Division through Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro affirmed the dismissal of PAL employees who participated in a strike in 1998 except pilot Gladys L. Jadie.

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The high court reversed the findings of both the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) and the Court of Appeals with regards to Jadie.

Both the NLRC and the appeals court said Jadie can no longer be reinstated because her former position as captain of the E-50 aircraft no longer existed, her license already expired, They also cited the animosity between PAL management and the dismissed employees and the possibility that Jadie had already secured a new job considering the time lapse from the filling of the illegal dismissal case and because PAL has already hired new pilots.

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The high court, in reversing the NLRC and the appeals court findings on Jadie’s case said records would show that Jadie did not participate in the strike because she was already on maternity leave.

“Jadie did not join the strike and could not be reasonably expected to report back for work by June 9, 1998 in compliance with the Return-to-Work Order,” the high court said noting that the pilot gave birth on June 24, 1998.

The high court ordered PAL to pay Jadie separation pay equivalent to one month salary for every year of service in lieu of reinstatement, backwages from June 9, 1998, longevity pay at P500 per month for every year of service based on seniority date falling after June 9, 1998, Christmas bonuses from 1998, her proportionate share in the P5-million contribution of PAL to the retirement fund, cash equivalent of vacation leaves and sick leaves, unpaid salaries for June 1 to 8, 1998, productivity allowance and rice subsidy.

The high court said legal interest of 6 percent per annum shall be in place from the date of finality of its ruing until full payment.

With regards to the other dismissed employees of PAL, the high court said they could not find any “compelling reason to disturb the findings of the NLRC.”

The High Court further held that, “[t]he significance and weight accorded by the NLRC to the logbook can no longer be gainsaid considering the declarations of the SC in [another] ALPAP case.” Moreover, the logbook entries were corroborated by the photographs showing the petitioners actually participating in the strike. “The objection that the photographs were not properly authenticated deserves scant consideration as rules of evidence are not strictly observed in proceedings before administrative bodies like the NLRC, where decisions may be reached on the basis of position papers only.”

The Court also found it noteworthy that “those caught on the photographs did not categorically deny being at the strike area on the time/s and date/s the photographs were taken, but assert that they were there in lawful exercise of their right while on official leave or scheduled off-duty, or in the alternative, that they were already dismissed from service as early as June 7, 1998 and their presence at the strike area thereafter was already irrelevant

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On December 9, 1997, the Airline Pilots Association of the Philippines (ALPAP) filed with the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) a Notice of Strike, on the grounds of unfair labor practice and union-busting by PAL.

Despite previous Orders of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary prohibiting all actual and impending strikes and lockouts, ALPAP filed a second Notice of Strike on June 5, 1998 and staged a strike on the same day. The DOLE Secretary immediately called PAL and ALPAP for conciliation conferences on June 6 and 7, 1998 to amicably settle the dispute between them. After his efforts failed, the DOLE Secretary issued a Return-to-Work Order on June 7, 1998, directing the striking officers and members of ALPAP to return to work within 24 hours from receipt.

On June 26, 1998, the members of ALPAP reported for work but PAL did not accept them on the ground that the 24-hour period for the strikers to return set by the DOLE Secretary in his Return-to-Work order had already lapsed, resulting in the forfeiture of their employment. Meanwhile, the DOLE Secretary issued a Resolution on June 1, 1999 declaring the strike of June 5, 1998 as illegal and that all ALPAP officers and members who participated therein had lost their employment status. CDG

READ: CA affirms PAL’s P730-M lawsuit vs striking pilots

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TAGS: Airline Pilots Association of the Philippines (ALPAP), Court of Appeals, Department of Labor and Employment, National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB), National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), Philippine Airlines, Supreme Court, Union Busting
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