Dominador A. Almirante

Labor case diget

RESPONDENTS were route helpers assigned to work in trucks of petitioner Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc. They would go from Coca-Cola plants to customer outlets. They were hired by Peerless and Excellent Partners Corporation, Inc. with which Coca-Cola entered into contracts of services.

Arguing that their services were necessary and desirable in the regular business of Coca-Cola, respondents filed complaints for regularization with money claims against it. Did the complaints prosper?

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Ruling: Yes.

While the respondents were not direct parties to this ruling, the petitioner was the party involved and Magsalin v. National Organization of Workingmen described in a very significant way the manufacture of softdrinks and the company’s sales and distribution activities in relation with one another.

Following the lead we gave in Magsalin, the Court of Appeals (CA) concluded that the contracted personnel who served as route helpers were really engaged in functions directly related to the overall business of the petitioner.

This led to the further CA conclusion that the contracted personnel were under the company’s supervision and control since sales and distribution were in fact not the purported contractors’ independent, discrete and separable activities, but were component parts of sales and distribution operations that the company controlled in its softdrinks business.

Based on these considerations, we fully agree with the CA that Peerless and Excellent were mere suppliers of labor who had no sufficient capitalization and equipment to undertake sales and distribution of softdrinks as independent activities separate from the manufacture of softdrinks, and who had no control and supervision over the contracted personnel.

They are therefore labor-only contractors. Consequently, the contracted personnel, engaged in component functions in the main business of the company under the latter’s supervision and control, cannot but be regular company employees.

In those lights, the petition is totally without merit and hence must be denied (Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc. vs. Ricky E. Dela Cruz at al., G.R. No. 184977, December 7, 2009).