CA junks labor union suit vs. APO

The Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed its earlier ruling over the contested collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the management and the employees association of the APO Production Unit Inc. (APO).


In its resolution dated June 14, the appellate court denied for lack of merit the motion for reconsideration filed by the Asian Productivity Employees Association (APEA), an organization of the rank and file employees of APO, a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) first put up in 1974.


“These matters…were already previously propounded and…were in fact. point by point, extensively exposited in the decision,” the CA said as it affirmed its July 2020 decision on the case, adding that there was “nothing new that would warrant a reversal or modification of the decision”


The case involved the workers’ insistence on a 2013 renegotiation of the terms of its CBA with the APO management.


The Governance Commission for GOCCs (GCG) in a 2013 letter said compensation matters cannot be voluntarily agreed upon by the APO board with APEA under a CBA since such matters are subject to the President’s approval.


Two laws, RA 10149 otherwise known as the GOCC Governance Act of 2011 and EO 7 s. 2010 providing for a moratorium on increases in the rates of salaries covered the compensation packages.


The APEA nevertheless insisted on the opening of the negotiations of its CBA prompting the GCG to state that if APO negotiates and enters into a CBA with the unions, the resulting CBA without the approval of the President, will be illegal and cannot bind APO.


A subsequent directive, EO No. 203 s. 2016, adopted a Compensation and Position Classification System (CPCS) for GOCCs and prohibits the governing board of the GOCCs from negotiating with their officers and employees the economic terms of their CBAs.


In 2019, the voluntary labor arbitration ruling on the suit filed by the union issued a decision in favor of a CBA prompting the parties to elevate the case to the CA.


The CA in its 2020 ruling reversed the arbiter and said the economic terms of employment in GOCCs “is no longer subject to negotiation” under RA 10149.


It said “to allow it would run counter to the very purpose of the law of preventing or deterring the granting of unconscionable and excessive renumeration packages.”


“While the right to self-organization is absolute, the right of government employees to collective bargaining and negotiation is subject to limitations,” it added.


The CA added that “while we commiserate with the plight of APO’s workers in seeking an increase in their salaries, we cannot give an imprimatur to an act that is explicitly prohibited by law.”


Source: Philippines News Agency


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