Members of the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) today dramatized their continuing protest over the Supreme Court decision that undermined workers’ fundamental right to freedom of expression by re-enacting Christ’s passion of the cross in front of the High Court.
“The Velasco Decision is another heavy cross that the workers would have to bear,” Reynaldo Rasing, president of the NUWHRAIN-Dusit Hotel Nikko Chapter, said. “It is a judicial legislation that employers would certainly exploit to prevent workers from exercising their constitutional right to freedom of expression,” he added.
Coming at a time when workers are starting to feel the full brunt of the global financial crisis, the Velasco Decision is a big blow to the labor movement. “It is the latest effort to roll back our rights – the right to organize, collectively bargain and to strike – that begun when globalization ushered massive changes in the labor market,” Rasing said.
To add insult to injury, the SC’s Second Division denied last 9 February 2009 all pleas for reconsideration filed by various trade unions. In its resolution, the Second Division even included the signature of ex-Justice Ruben T. Reyes, who retired last 2 January 2009.
‘This is a travesty of justice that tends to put the integrity of the Supreme Court in question,” Rasing said. “It is for this reason that we are calling on Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno to review our case en banc,” Rasing added.
The Velasco Decision emanated from a labor dispute back in 2002 when 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 SC ruled in favor of the management.
Penned by Associate Justice Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr., the decision ruled that the shaving of heads was not a constitutionally protected form of expression because it embarrassed and defied the hotel’s rules on grooming standards. It added 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.
In support of its campaign to reverse the unjust decision, the APL has started an online signature campaign to press the High Court to review the Velasco Decision and to uphold the workers’ fundamental rights. It will also file a complaint before the International Labor Organization (ILO).