Saturday 17 November, 2018
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SC sorts out confusion: Labor arbitration rulings may be brought to court in 15 days, not 10

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The Supreme Court (SC) has finally sorted out the confusion on the prescribed period for appealing the labor rulings of voluntary arbitrators or panels of arbitrators.

In a recent 18-page en banc decision on the case of the Guagua National Colleges (GNC) unions, the SC said the 10-day period under Article 276 of the Labor Code referred to the filing of motions for reconsideration (MR) before the arbitrator.

After the arbitrator resolves the MR, the aggrieved party may file a petition for review before the Court of Appeals (CA) within 15 days from notice under Section 4 of Rule 43 of the Rules of Court.

This settled the confusion between the seemingly conflicting provisions of the Labor Code and the Rules of Court. Even the SC itself applied the 10-day period on labor rulings brought to the courts in some of its previous decisions.

The SC blamed the “inaction” of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) regarding the revision of the Revised Procedural Guidelines in the Conduct of Voluntary Proceedings.

The decision, penned by Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin, directed the DOLE and the NCMB to amend the guidelines “to reflect the foregoing ruling herein.”

Meanwhile, the SC also affirmed the Court of Appeals’ (CA) December 15, 2008 decision to deny the GNC’s petition seeking the dismissal of the appeals brought by GNC Faculty and Labor Union and GNC Non-Teaching Maintenance Labor Union.

GNC’s case arose from its move to fund its retirement program using some of the 70% proceeds from tuition increases reserved for the payment of employees’ salaries and benefits. Voluntary Arbitrator Froilan Bacungan on June 16, 2008 ruled in GNC’s favor.

The college argued the CA should have thrown out the two unions’ appeals and applied the shorter 10-day period for filing the petitions.

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