OSG asks CA to reinstate DOLE order to regularize 7k PLDT workers

MANILA The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) has asked the Court of Appeals to reverse its ruling and restore the order of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) directing the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) to regularize 7,344 workers it hired from third party contractors.

In a 59-page partial motion for reconsideration filed on Wednesday, Solicitor General Jose Calida, representing DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III, assailed the CA's findings that exclude some workers from the DOLE order for having a legitimate job contracting relationship with PLDT.

In its assailed ruling, the appellate court affirmed DOLE's rulings on PLDT's labor-only contracting scheme but only pertaining to workers whose jobs are necessary to PLDT's core services, such as line installation, maintenance, and repair workers.

It further remanded to the Office of the Regional Director of the DOLE National Capital Region the matter of the regularization of these employees.

The ruling of this Honorable Court that some of PLDT's contractors are labor-only contractors based on the nature of the 'functions/jobs/services' that the contractors' deployed workers perform for PLDT, and on the determination of whether these are 'usually necessary and desirable in the usual course of the business of [PLDT] is erroneous, Calida said.

Calida countered CA's use of direct-relation test as the only criteria in determining the existence of labor-only contracting.

He noted that the SC has also considered the existence of the principal contract's right to control the means and methods of the work of the contractors' employees or the so-called control-test, as well as the contractor's lack of independent business in determining whether there is labor-only contracting.

Public respondent [Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III] critically examined the case for each and every contractor involved, as well as PLDT itself, through both the appeals and the motions for reconsideration. There is nothing to show that public respondent made his findings arbitrarily or in a despotic manner, the OSG insisted.

Calida added that the Bello is empowered under the law to review the findings of his subordinates and to order compliance with relevant labor standards.

He added that the findings of the DOLE secretary was based on the application of relevant rules and regulations to the factual circumstances of each specific contractor.

These factual circumstances, according to Calida, were determined through a duly conducted Special Assessment Visit of Establishment (SAVE), which PLDT has not shown to have been improper.

The Honorable Court should have considered the totality of the factors surrounding the relationship between PLDT and its individual contractors whichwould show that these contractors are labor-only contractors, due not only the nature of the services they perform for PLDT, but due to the degree of control that PLDT exercises over their workers, or to their lack of an independent business, the OSG pointed out.

The OSG also defended the labor department's computation of the monetary awards for the workers amounting to PHP51.6 million.

The computation of the monetary awards in the assailed resolutions is by no means arbitrary because public respondent subjected it to layers of painstaking review based on the substantial evidence at hand, it said.

Among the evidence considered by the DOLE were inspectors' interviews, payrolls, payslips, proof of payment, position papers, rosters of workers, employees manuals, company rules, release and quitclaims, contracts of employment, service agreements, correspondences, affidavits, bank transaction receipts and other employment records.

In its July 31 decision, the CA's 10th Division granted the petition of the telecommunications giant for the issuance of the injunction against Bello's order and said only workers of contractors performing installations, repairs and maintenance services of the PLDT lines should be considered for regularization.

The court held that PLDT did not violate any law when it decided not to regularize the BPO and IT support personnel.

The appellate court said that contracting out of services is not illegal per se, adding that janitorial, maintenance, security and messengerial services may be contracted out. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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