Retired Justice Participated in SC Decision, Curtailing Workers Right to Freedom of Expression

The Entire Labor Movement Vowed To Fight The Unjust Ruling

“A complete travesty of justice!” This was how trade union leaders reacted to the inclusion of ex-Justice Ruben T. Reyes, who retired last 2 January 2009, as one of those who issued the 9 February 2009 resolution of the Supreme Court’s Second Division junking all motions for intervention and reconsideration filed by various trade unions in the case of NUWHRAIN-APL-IUF Dusit Hotel Nikko Chapter v. Court of Appeals.

Through separate motions for intervention filed by the government unions and another by a host of unions in the private sector, workers are seeking the reversal of the “Velasco Decision” that abridged worker’s fundamental right to freedom for expression. These motions were filed AFTER Justice Reyes retired.

Back in 2002 Dusit Hotel workers were prevented from entering the company premises after cropping their heads as part of their protest actions during a collective bargaining deadlock. Claiming that the workers staged an illegal strike, 90 workers were illegally terminated. In response, the union filed a case of union busting and illegal dismissal.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court, through the Velasco Decision, penned by Associate Justice Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr., took the Dusit management’s side. Contrary to common sense, the Court ruled that workers who did not engage in work stoppage were considered to have gone on strike since they provoked the hotel into preventing them from working by cropping their heads. It further ruled that the act of shaving one’s head as a means of protest transgressed the limits of freedom of expression and could validly be restricted by law.

The “Velasco Decision” has been severely criticized by the labor movement. During a meeting at the International Labor Organization (ILO) office in Manila last March 11, 2009, the entire spectrum of the Philippine labor movement agreed to file a complaint before the ILO.

“For the first time in many years, the entire labor movement is united on a clear objective – to reverse this unjust ruling,” Reynaldo Rasing, president of the NUWHRAIN-Dusit Hotel Nikko Chapter, said.

The Confederation of Independent Unions in the Public Sector (CIU), Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK) and Postal Employees Union of the Philippines (PEUP) were the government unions that filed one the motions for intervention. The other was filed by Manggagawa sa Komunikasyon ng Pilipinas (MKP), National Labor Union (NLU), National Alliance of Broadcast Unions (NABU), Philippine Metalworkers’ Alliance (PMA), Automotive Industry Workers Alliance (AIWA), Workers’ Solidarity Network (WSN), League of Independent Bank Organization (LIBO) and Alliance of Coca-Cola Unions in the Philippines (ACCUP).

Other groups such as the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila – Archdiocesan Ministry for Labor Concerns, labor groups from Cebu led by the Bank of the Philippine Islands Cebu Employees Independent Union, and from Bohol led by the University of Bohol Employees Union, likewise filed their respective motions for Intervention.

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