Almirante: Contempt power-A A +A
Friday, May 4, 2012
Labor case digest
IN A complaint for illegal dismissal and unfair labor practice, seven petitioners moved to cite the National Labor Relations Commission (First Division) and Chemo-Technische Manufacturing Inc. for contempt for failure to obey the orders of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC).
The petitioners were Federico S. Robosa, Rolando E. Pandy, Noel D. Roxas, Alexander Angeles, Veronica Gutierrez, Fernando Embat and Nanette H. Pinto, rank-and-file employees of Chemo-Technische, which manufactured and distributed Wella products. The petitioners were also officers or members of the CTMI Employees Union.
The respondents opposed the motion, contending that indirect contempt may be initiated only in the appropriate Regional Trial Court, pursuant to Section 12, Rule 71 of the Rules of Court. The NLRC has no jurisdiction over an indirect contempt charge. Is there merit to the contention?
On the first issue, the court stressed that under Article 218 of the Labor Code, the NLRC (and the labor arbiters) may hold any offending party in contempt, directly or indirectly, and impose appropriate penalties in accordance with law. The penalty for direct contempt consists of either imprisonment or fine, the degree or amount depends on whether the contempt is against the Commission or the labor arbiter. The Labor Code, however, requires the labor arbiter or the Commission to deal with indirect contempt in the manner prescribed under Rule 71 of the Rules of Court.
Rule 71 of the Rules of Court does not require the labor arbiter or the NLRC to initiate indirect contempt proceedings before the trial court. This mode is to be observed only when there is no law granting them contempt powers. As is clear under Article 218(d) of the Labor Code, the labor arbiter or the Commission is empowered or has jurisdiction to hold the offending party or parties in direct or indirect contempt.
The petitioners, therefore, have not improperly brought the indirect contempt charges against the respondents before the NLRC. (Federico S. Robosa, et. al. vs. NLRC, et. al., G.R. No. 176085, Feb. 8, 2012)
(Almirante is a former labor arbiter.)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 05, 2012.