Tuesday, March 6, 2012

ISAE v Quisimbing G.R. No. 128845. June 1, 2000

J. Kapunan

The ISM, under Presidential Decree 732, is a domestic educational institution established primarily for dependents of foreign diplomatic personnel and other temporary residents.
The local-hires union of the ISM were crying foul over the disparity in wages that they got compared to that of their foreign teaching counterparts.
These questions are asked to qualify a teacher into a local or foreign hire.
a.....What is one's domicile?
b.....Where is one's home economy?
c.....To which country does one owe economic allegiance?
d.....Was the individual hired abroad specifically to work in the School and was the School responsible for bringing that individual to the Philippines?
Should any answer point to Philippines, the person is a local hire. The School grants foreign-hires certain benefits to the foreign hires such as housing, transportation, and 25% more pay than locals under the theory of (a) the "dislocation factor" and (b) limited tenure. The first was grounded on leaving his home country, the second was on the lack of tenure when he returns home.
The negotiations between the school and the union caused a deadlock between the parties.
The DOLE resolved in favor of the school, while Dole Secretary Quisimbing denied the union’s mfr.
He said, “The Union cannot also invoke the equal protection clause to justify its claim of parity. It is an established principle of constitutional law that the guarantee of equal protection of the laws is not violated by legislation or private covenants based on reasonable classification. A classification is reasonable if it is based on substantial distinctions and apply to all members of the same class. Verily, there is a substantial distinction between foreign hires and local hires, the former enjoying only a limited tenure, having no amenities of their own in the Philippines and have to be given a good compensation package in order to attract them to join the teaching faculty of the School.”
The union appealed to the Supreme Court.
The petitioner called the hiring system discriminatory and racist.
The school alleged that some local hires were in fact of foreign origin. They were paid local salaries.

Whether or not the hiring system is violative of the equal protection clause

Held: Yes, Petition granted

Public policy abhors discrimination. The Article on Social Justice and Human Rights exhorts Congress to "give highest priority to the enactment of measures that protect and enhance the right of all people to human dignity…”
The very broad Article 19 of the Civil Code requires every person, "in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his duties, [to] act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith."
International law prohibits discrimination, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. The latter promises “Fair wages and equal remuneration for work of equal value without distinction of any kind.”
In the workplace, where the relations between capital and labor are often skewed in favor of capital, inequality and discrimination by the employer are all the more reprehensible.
The Constitution also directs the State to promote "equality of employment opportunities for all." Similarly, the Labor Code provides that the State shall "ensure equal work opportunities regardless of sex, race or creed. Article 248 declares it an unfair labor practice for an employer to discriminate in regard to wages in order to encourage or discourage membership in any labor organization.
In this jurisdiction, there is the term “equal pay for equal work”, pertaining to persons being paid with equal salaries and have similar skills and similar conditions. There was no evidence here that foreign-hires perform 25% more efficiently or effectively than the local-hires.
The State, therefore, has the right and duty to regulate the relations between labor and capital. These relations are not merely contractual but are so impressed with public interest that labor contracts, collective bargaining agreements included, must yield to the common good.[
For the same reason, the "dislocation factor" and the foreign-hires' limited tenure also cannot serve as valid bases for the distinction in salary rates. The dislocation factor and limited tenure affecting foreign-hires are adequately compensated by certain benefits accorded them which are not enjoyed by local-hires, such as housing, transportation, shipping costs, taxes and home leave travel allowances.
In this case, we find the point-of-hire classification employed by respondent School to justify the distinction in the salary rates of foreign-hires and local hires to be an invalid classification. There is no reasonable distinction between the services rendered by foreign-hires and local-hires.
However, foreign-hires do not belong to the same bargaining unit as the local-hires. It does not appear that foreign-hires have indicated their intention to be grouped together with local-hires for purposes of collective bargaining. The collective bargaining history in the School also shows that these groups were always treated separately. The housing and other benefits accorded foreign hires were not given to local hires, thereby such admixture will nbot assure any group the power to exercise bargaining rights.
The factors in determining the appropriate collective bargaining unit are (1) the will of the employees (Globe Doctrine); (2) affinity and unity of the employees' interest, such as substantial similarity of work and duties, or similarity of compensation and working conditions (Substantial Mutual Interests Rule); (3) prior collective bargaining history; and (4) similarity of employment status.

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