2013 (Labor Law) Bar Exam Questions: Question 7

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VII

Philippine Electric Company is engaged in electric power generation and distribution. It is a unionized company with Kilusang Makatao as the union representing its rank-and-file employees. During the negotiations for their expired collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the parties duly served their proposals and counter-proposals on one another. The parties, however, failed to discuss the merits of their proposals and counter-proposals in any formal negotiation meeting because their talks already bogged down on the negotiation grounds, i.e., on the question of how they would conduct their negotiations, particularly on whether to consider retirement as a negotiable issue.

Because of the continued impasse, the union went on strike. The Secretary of Labor and Employment immediately assumed jurisdiction over the dispute to avert widespread electric power interruption in the country. After extensive discussions and the filing of position papers (before the National Conciliation and Mediation Board and before the Secretary of himself) on the validity of the union’s strike and on the wage and other economic issues (including the retirement issue), the DOLE Secretary ruled on the validity of the strike and on the disputed CBA issues, and ordered the parties to execute a CBA based on his rulings.

Did the Secretary of Labor exceed his jurisdiction when he proceeded to rule on the parties’ CBA positions even though the parties did not fully negotiate on their own? (8%)

16 comments

  1. I think my answer here is secretary did not exceed its jurisdiction, because precisely the purpose of such assumption is the wholesale adjudication of the labor dispute which is the reason why all other pending actions are reported and consolidated and the status quo ante is maintained. And the fact that there were extensive discussion and filing of position papers between and among the two sides both parties were heard to merit the decision of the secretary.

  2. Same answer as anon. I just discussed the power of the secretary when he assumes a labor dispute on a industry involving national interest.

  3. Yes. The issues raised, particularly those pertaining to cba issues, are not within the jurisdiction of the secretary of labor. The issues should have been referred to a grievance machinery and voluntary arbitration.

    1. For me po the referral would be useless since the assumption order necessarily carries with it the reporting and consolidation of all other pending actions between the parties.

      1. ill just leave this one to the examiner. madami talaga conflicting views but the examiner still has the final word. hehe

    2. Para sakin, mas exact yung “no” because the plenary powers of the Secretary when he assumes national interest cases. Unfortunately, hindi yun ang sagot ko. My answer was: yes, because it is the sole responsibility of the management and the labor to negotiate” or something like that. sana ma-appreciate ng examiner hehehe…

  4. The assumption of jurisdiction by the sec of labor includes the power to impose an arbitral award. The arbitral award can be considered an approximation of a collective bargaining agreement which would otherwise have been entered into by the parties, hence, it has the force and effect of a valid contract obligation. Cirtek, 2010

    1. With all due respect, there was nothing mentioned in the question as regards the Secretary of Labor ordering an arbitral award. Further, the facts and the issues of the case you’ve given were not similar to the query given. My answer is the Secretary did NOT exceed its jurisdiction. My reasoning was the same as that of Not sure. This is just my opinion. We are still at the mercy of the bar examiner.

  5. In ordering the parties to execute a CBA based on his rulings, the Secretary of Labor exceeded his jurisdiction. CBA is a mutual obligation…for the purpose of negotiating an agreement with respect to wages, hours of work and all other terms and conditions of employment…but such duty does not compel any party to agree to a proposal or to make any concession. (Art. 262) Hence,The Secretary can order the parties to execute a CBA but he cannot compel them to base their CBA on his rulings. ^_^

    1. Maganda ito answer mo phoenix and I think this will merit full credit, in my opinion lang parang may conflict lang sa law mismo because the assumption power of the secretary has never been qualified in the labor code, considering that such power allows him to decide the labor dispute whether it involves unfair labor practice or economic in character such as those contained in a CBA. If you look at the provisions of labor code , CBA is a mutual obligation but the provision on assumption allows him to decide the labor dispute without pinpointing what kind of dispute and my presumption is lahat. I took the power of assumption more of as an exception to the mutual obligation of the parties since in the first place this would only apply to industries involving national interest which would warrant the urgency and indispensability of immediate action otherwise kung hindi nya pwede i order ang execution of CBA based on his ruling, the impasse will just continue and the exercise of such power of assumption would proved futile.

  6. The SOLE is committed grave abuse of discretion. The LC is clear that no court, administrative agency or officer shall have the power to set or fix wage, rate of pay, hours of work and other terms and conditions of employment except as otherwise provided for the LC. Obviously reffering to theRTWB.

  7. The SOLE has committed grave abuse of discretion. The LC is clear that no court, administrative agency or officer shall have the power to set or fix wage, rate of pay, hours of work and other terms and conditions of employment except as otherwise provided for the LC. Obviously reffering to theRTWB.

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