Sunday, May 5, 2013

NLRC reverses Executive Labor Arbiter’s ruling; upholds legality of project employment

In a decision dated 11 June 2012, the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), reversed a decision of the Executive Labor Arbiter of Regional Arbitration Board (RAB) III Mariano Bactin, and declared that the complainant was a project employee of respondent company, in the case of Subic Drydock Corp (SDC) vs. Conde. SDC is being represented by this author.

“Undisputed is the fact that the Respondents merely accept contracts for repairs/maintenance of vessels from third parties and only on occasion when it has contracts of this nature that it will hire workers to do the job. The various contracts entered into between the Complainant and the Respondents  sufficiently prove the fixed-term employment between them. Careful review of the aforementioned documents shows that Complainant-Conde was hired as Mechanical Rigger assigned to different clients of Respondent-SDC such as MTSC Projects/Catleya; Super Shuttle Project; for M/V Cabilao, M/V Magsino and M/V Cabo. Thus, Respondent-SDC relies mainly on, and contingent to, the project it enters and thus, it hires project employees to meet the demands of specific projects,” NLRC states in its decision. 

Conde was initially hired as a project-based employee by SDC for a period of three months. When the last of his several contracts expired, he had just completed his project employment for two months as mechanical rigger for three vessels.

The Commission also duly noted in its decision that, “The fact that Complainant-Conde is a project employee is bolstered further with the Complainant having signed his various employment contracts for specific projects and specific period of time. He likewise signed the notice given him upon the expiration of each and every contract.”  It cited the case of William Uy Construction Corp., et. al. vs. Trinidad, involving a driver who was continuously and repeatedly rehired, but was still declared a project employee.

The case is under appeal.

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