CA upholds termination of broadcast firm employees

Court of Appeals (File photo)

MANILA – The Court of Appeals (CA) dismissed a petition filed by 22 former employees of broadcast firm TV5 Network Inc. questioning their retrenchment four years ago.

In a recent ruling, the CA 14th Division upheld the 2018 National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) decision that the terminations were substantiated by the cash-strapped company.

The arbiter found that TV5 was able to prove its losses in billions of pesos from 2013 to 2016, prompting the network to strip down its entertainment division following poor ratings, cancel most programs, and shift television content from foreign producers as part of cost-reduction measures.

The petitioners were mostly news assistants for field assignments and who cover on their own or assist reporters and television talents during coverages.

Most of them were hired in 2010 while a cameraman, Joselito Parrocha, has been employed in the company since 1999.

The group was ordered to report to the office on Feb. 24, 2017 where they were served notices of termination effective the following day.

The severance package included salary for the month, pro-rated 13th month pay, and separation pay worth one month's salary for every year of service.

Thirty-six of the employees originally filed complaints with the Department of Labor and Employment and the NLRC.

In December 2017, the NLRC dismissed the consolidated complaints and said the petitioners were validly retrenched after compliance with the law's requirements.

The arbiter also said the broadcaster proved that fair and reasonable criteria were observed from the manpower rationalization study evaluations on petitioners in determining the employees to be retrenched.

The NLRC initially said the workers were not validly terminated and said TV5 should have observed seniority or the last in, first out (LIFO) rule.

It later reversed the decision upon an appeal of the firm and upheld the arbiter's ruling against the workers, saying it "found substantial proof and justification for TV5's selection process on which positions to retain or abolish, which made use of a collaborative performance evaluation tool".

The NLRC also said seniority is not the sole basis or criteria in a valid retrenchment, prompting the workers to take the case to the CA.

In turning down the workers' suit on November 11, the CA said "it was well within the NLRC's jurisdiction to review and correct its misapplication of the LIFO rule and reverse its earlier decision" and since TV5's compliance with the requisites for a valid retrenchment are beyond dispute and supported by substantial evidence, "it cannot be inferred that the NLRC gravely abused its discretion in ruling that petitioners have been validly terminated after TV5 complied with substantive and procedural due process." (PNA)

Source: Business Diary Philippines

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