Republic Act 9481 – More Rights, More Mistakes?

Since the labor laws of the country werefrom codified in the Seventies during my incumbency as Labor Secretary, the Labor Code has undergone a series of revisions both by acts of the legislature and by executive fiat. Taken with the numerous labor and social legislations bearing upon the field of labor and employment as well as the myriad rules implementing the Labor Code and related laws, the subject could be utterly confusing and rather complicated. – Ka Blas Ople, Foreword on Atty. Joselito G Chan’s LABOR CODE ANNOTATED, 2005 Ed. 

IT WAS SB 2466 WHICH lapsed into law as Republic Act 9481 last May 25, 2007.  Said bill was sponsored on the floor by Senators Pangilinan, Gordon and Jinggoy Estrada.  The law is also known as “An Act Strengthening the Workers’ Constitutional Right to Self-Organization.” 

The following are the salient features of the said law:

  • When may a federation, national union or industry or trade union center or an independent union aquire legal personality? Answer: Upon issuance of the certificate of registration.  It shall likewise be entitled to the rights and privileges granted by law to legitimate labor organizations.  
  • May a federation or national union create a local chapter? Answer: YES.  However, the chapter shall acquire legal personality only for purposes of filing a petition for certification from the date it was issued a charter certificate.  The chapter shall be entitled to all other rights and privileges of a legitimate labor organization only upon the submission of the following documents in addition to its charter certificate: A) names and addresses of officers and principal office of the chapter; and B) constitution and by-laws, if the same with federation or national union, this fact shall be indicated accordingly.  
  • Can there be voluntary cancellation of union registration? Answer: YES.  The registration of a legitimate labor organization may be cancelled only by the organization itself provided that at least 2/3 of its general membership votes, in a meeting duly called for that purpose, to dissolve the organization.
  • Is failure to comply with the reportorial requirements a ground for cancellation of union registration? Answer: NO, it shall not be a groud for cancellation of union registration but shall subject the erring officers or members to suspension, expulsion from membership, or any appropriate penalty.
  • What is the effect of inclusion employees outside the bargaining unit? Answer: It shall not be a ground for the cancellation of registration of the union.  However, said employees are automatically deemed removed from list of membership of said union.
  • May rank and file union and supervisory union join the same federation or national union? Answer: YES.
  • In unorganized establishments, may a federation or national union file a petition for certification election with the Med-Arbiter? Answer: YES. And in cases where it is filed by a federation or national union, it shall not be required to disclose the names of the local chapter’s officers and members. 
  • What is the role of the employer if a petition for certification election is filed? Answer: A mere by-stander.  In all cases, whether the petition for cert. election is filed by an employer or a legitimate labor organization, the employer shall not be considered a party thereto with concomitant right to oppose a petition for certification election.  However, employer’s participation is limited to: A) notice or information of petitions of such nature; B) submit list of employeese in the bargaining unit under oath during the pre-election conference should the Med-Arbiter act favorably on the petition.

The law actually made several new provisions to the Labor Code.  Whether strengthening worker’s constitutional right to self-organization means weakening the employers’ right to self-preservation is another point to consider.  Maybe, maybe not.


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