GOCC employee wants to form union

Published by rudy Date posted on March 29, 2011

Dear PAO,
My problem is regarding to my employment with a certain government-owned and -controlled corporation (GOCC) with charter. I have been an employee since 1981.

Some of the employees were talking about forming a labor union. I thought of joining it with hopes that my salary would increase.

We started to demand an increase in our salary. However, before the Christmas season ended, we were all transferred to different branches of our Office.

As a reaction to this injustice, we are planning to stage a strike and refuse to go to work. I still want to form a labor union. How do we go about it?
Sincerely yours,

Dear Ed,
You mentioned that you are an employee of a government-owned and -controlled corporation with an original charter.

Thus, it is prudent to mention at the onset that you are considered as a government employee who is covered by the civil service rules and regulations. The Supreme Court in the case of Garcia vs. Molina and Velasco (GR 157383/GR 174137, August 10, 2010) held that:

“The civil service encompasses all branches and agencies of the Government, including government-owned or controlled corporations (GOCCs) with original charters, xxx, or those created by special law.

As such, the employees are part of the civil service system and are subject to the law and to the circulars, rules and regulations issued by the CSC on discipline, attendance and general terms and conditions of employment.”

Thus, the applicable law in determining your rights as an employee is the Civil Service Law and other pertinent laws, rules and regulations specifically covering government employees.

Bearing that in mind, we now discuss your right to stage a strike, to refuse to go to work and to form a labor union for the purpose of collective bargaining.

The right to organize as enshrined by the Constitution admits of certain exemptions. Government employees have the right to join associations but such right does not include the right to form a labor union for collective bargaining purposes.

Moreover, public employees are denied the right to strike or engage in any work stoppage against a public employer. To grant employees of the government the right to strike, there must be a clear and direct legislative authority conferring the same.

Therefore, in the absence of any express legislation granting their right to do so or regulating the exercise of said right, employees in the public service may not engage in strike, walk-outs and temporary work stoppage unlike their contemporaries in the private sector. (Bangalisan vs. CA, GR 124678, July 31, 1997).

Hence, you should not follow through with your plan to form a labor union, stage a strike or refuse to go to work.

These methods of bargaining are not recognized by the law in relation to government employees and, as such, may not be resorted to by employees in the civil service.

“It bears stressing that suspension of public services, however temporary, will inevitably derail services to the public, which is one of the reasons why the right to strike is denied to government employees.” (Bangalisan vs. CA, G.R. No. 124678, July 31, 1997)
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.

We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter. –Persida Acosta, Manila Times

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net

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