To expedite the resolution of labor disputes, the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) has institutionalized a system to emphasize the primacy of conciliation and mediation in the compulsory arbitration process.
Labor and Employment Undersecretary Manuel G. Imson said the system is expected to further boost industrial peace, which attained a remarkable achievement last year when the country posted the lowest strike level in 26 years.
Strike incidence for 2004, which was 34 percent lower than the previous year, had been attributed to the efforts of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in seeking out for mechanisms that promote industrial peace.
Citing the report of NLRC Chairman Roy V. Señeres to Labor and Employment Secretary Patricia A. Sto. Tomas, Imson said the new system includes Conciliation and Mediation Center (CMC) that has been set up to identify and recommend cases where conciliation and mediation would be responsive and effective in the resolution of labor disputes.
CMCs would also be set up at the Regional Arbitration Branches (RABs) of the NLRC to develop and strengthen internal and external linkages with other alternative dispute resolution providers, including the Philippine Judiciary Academy and the Philippine Mediation Center.
Señeres reported to Sto. Tomas that the creation of the center was inspired by the success of the 2003 mediation training and internship program sponsored by the USAID-AGILE and the CORE Group. Out of the 215 cases referred to mediation proceedings facilitated by trained NLRC mediators he said that 202 were settled amicably for a 94 percent success rate.
He said there were 211 cases referred to the CMC for preventive mediation during its first month of operation in November last year, of which 51 cases completed the conciliation and mediation process. Of this number, 50 cases were settled for a 98 percent success rate.
He added that 56 of the referred cases were terminated due to lack of action by one or both parties, or either one or both parties declined to enter into mediation.
The NLRC chairman expressed optimism that even if cases continue to pile up at his agency, the CMC would prove that “mediation and conciliation works” or as the Filipinos’ saying goes, “Walang di nadadaan sa maayos at mabuting usapan.”
Señeres also reported that the NLRC would soon implement its case management system (CMS) to further enhance existing NLRC mechanisms on case management.
He said the project would provide for the design, development and installation of computer-based solution and network systems that would store, process and maintain a repository of cases filed with the NLRC and its regional branches.
Specifically, the CMS would provide critical case information details such as nature of the case, parties involved, case status and case disposition details, adjudication reports, and searchable data base of all labor laws, rules and regulations and jurisprudence that should be made available for authorized users on-line.
Señeres said the project aims to enhance transparency of labor case adjudication and processes; facilitate information retrieval on case status; and provide on-line access to accurate, relevant and timely data. This would facilitate research and decision writing of labor arbiters and commissioners he said.