Asin workers case junked

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

THE Civil Service Commission (CSC) dismissed the complaint of some 32 former Hedcor employees hired by the City Government in 2009 to maintain and operate the Asin mini-hydroelectric power plants.

The illegal termination or constructive dismissal complaint filed by Maximiano Lagasca and 31 other former Hedcor employees against the city government last July 5 was trashed citing they are not government employees.

In the December 2 decision, CSC Regional Director Marilyn Taldo ruled that based on documents submitted by complainants and the City Government, "complainants were hired on job order basis and/or contract of service" and "are not considered government employees within the purview of the Civil Service Law and Rules."

The decision highlighted provisions in the contract of job orders, which stressed "services rendered are not considered government service" where no employer-employee relationship exists.

The decision also highlighted the contract submitted by complainants stated they are not considered and accredited government employees who are entitled to benefits to regular employees of the employer, the city government of Baguio.

The complainants were hired by the City Government through Resolution 258 series of 2006 to temporarily run the operation of the power plants while the city continues looking for qualified bidders for its long term operation.

The workers were terminated after the Benguet Electric Cooperative decided to refuse purchasing power from the Asin plants citing lack of an Energy Power Purchase Agreement and non-compliance of the city to the Philippine Distribution Code and the requisite certificates of compliance as a power generator with the Energy Regulatory Commission.

The City Government also added the complainants did not undergo standard selection process and they were paid on daily basis and are not afforded standard benefits of regular employee. They are also not required to accomplish performance evaluation.

Complainants were also unable to convince the CSC they perform regular and similar functions to market and park operations employees.

The National Labor Relations Commission also dismissed a similar complaint of the former Asin workers for constructive dismissal where they sought separation pay, payment of back wages and unpaid salaries including holidays and rest days, night shift differentials, unpaid 13th month pay, service incentive leaves, damages and lawyer’s fees.

NLRC labor arbiter Monroe Tabingan in his decision last May dismissed the complaint for lack of jurisdiction since the complainants were employed by the local government whose case jurisdiction lies with the CSC.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on December 19, 2013.

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