CA affirms dismissal of Coca-Cola employees in 2009

by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 21 2014 05:43 PM | Updated as of Aug 22 2014 01:43 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed the dismissal of over 200 employees by Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines in 2009, and absolved the firm from allegations of unfair labor practices.

In a decision penned by Associate Justice Myra Garcia-Fernandez, the appellate court's Eighth Division upheld the ruling of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) in favor of Coca-Cola.

The appellate court said the dismissal of the employees complied with the requirements under Article 283 of the Labor Code, such as the distribution of notices of termination on May 29, 2009 or more than 30 days before their separation from service on June 30 that year; 175-percent separation pay per year of service for those who had worked below 15 years with the company, and 200-percent separation pay for those with at least 15 years of service.

Coca-Cola also provided other benefits such as commutation of earned vacation and sick leaves, 13th month pay, 5-year health coverage or up to 65 years of age, commission buy-out premium, and livelihood programs.

The appellate court also pointed out that the employees were paid their salaries up to June 30, 2009.

The 276 workers were dismissed due to the company's decision to contract out work to a third party. Coca-Cola claimed that this was a new strategy to cut on cost.

The employees union argued that no prior notice was given to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and the dismissal became effective on May 30 which deprived the employees of the opportunity to be heard.

In its decision, the appellate court ruled that management also has rights, and "it should not be supposed that every labor dispute will be automatically decided in favor of labor."

"In the case at bar, private respondents' (Coca-Cola) decision to adopt the 'new route-to-market execution strategy' was made in good faith and impelled by purely legitimate business considerations.

"Management also has its own rights, which, as such, are entitled to respect and enforcement in the interest of simple fair play," the decision read.