Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday said the DOLE Legal Service has finally settled a four-year old labor dispute at Manila Toll Expressway System, Inc. which resulted to the awarding of P11 million in monetary settlement to 20 former workers.
Baldoz hailed the settlement of the lingering labor row, saying it “augurs well to industrial harmony, economic stability, and the country’s efforts to foster job-rich growth”.
“Through conciliation-mediation handled by the DOLE-Legal Service, the 20 former employees of Manila Toll Expressway, System, Inc. (MATES) received the amount of P 550,000.00 each, or a total of P11 million, as settlement of their awards for separation pay, attorney’s fees, and full backwages,” said Baldoz, adding that the said employees received their monetary settlement and Certificates of Employment (COE) on 3 November 2015.
DOLE Legal Service Attorneys Florence Daquioag, Earl Louie Masacayan and Nathaniel Barrairo of the DOLE Legal Service facilitated the conciliation-mediation conference. The 20 workers were among the 107 complainants of the case docketed as OS-VA-005-2011 (SEAD-NCR-MPFO-006-06-11).
On 1 June 2011, the 20 employees filed a complaint for regularization, illegal dismissal, and money claims against the Manila Toll Expressway, System, Inc. (MATES), a corporation involved in the operations and maintenance of the Alabang-Calamba portion of the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), before the DOLE Regional Office in NCR.
Several conciliation-mediation conferences were conducted by the DOLE NCR, but no amicable settlement was reached. Both parties agreed to submit the case for voluntary arbitration by the Office of the DOLE Secretary which conducted conciliation conferences to exhaust possible remedies for the amicable settlement of the said labor dispute. Out of the 107 complainants, 87 opted to receive their separation pay, but the remaining 20 chose to pursue their complaint.
On 25 February 2013, Secretary Baldoz issued a decision declaring the 20 former employees to have attained regular status and directing MATES, in lieu of reinstatement, to pay them separation package and attorney’s fees equivalent to ten percent of the total amount awarded. However, both parties filed their respective Motion for Reconsideration for the said Decision of the Office of the Secretary.
On 27 August 2015, then Acting Secretary Rebecca C. Chato issued a Resolution modifying the Decision, awarding additional full back wages to the 20 employees. However, the claim for reinstatement of the said employees and MATES’ Motion for Reconsideration were also denied.
Consequently, on 18 September 2015, the 20 employees sent a letter requesting DOLE to conduct a conciliation-mediation conference for the possible settlement of the labor dispute on their awards according to the previous decision of Secretary Baldoz on 25 February 2013 and the DOLE Resolution issued on 27 August 2015.
Acting on the above request, the Legal Service under the Conciliation and Mediation Unit-Office of the Secretary (OSEC-CMU), issued a Notice of Conference requesting Manila Toll Expressway, System, Inc. and the 20 affected employees for a conciliation-mediation proceedings on 24 September 2015.
During the said conference, the 20 employees, assisted by their counsel Atty. Gaston D. Taquio, submitted a proposed computation of their back wages and settlement amount. MATES was represented by Attys. Ruby A. Sy and Allan G. Kato.
On 15 October 2015, the 20 employees agreed with the counter offer of MATES amounting to PhP 550,000 for each employee, or a total of P 11,000,000 as separation pay, attorney’s fees, and full back wages reckoned on 1 June 2011 until the finality of the Department’s Decision.
On 3 November 2015, the 20 employees received the agreed settlement amount and their Certificate of Employment issued by MATES.