Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company Employees Union- ALU-TUCP vs. National Labor Relations Commission

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  268SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED  Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company Employees Union- ALU-TUCP vs. National Labor Relations Commission G.R. No. 102636. September 10, 1993. * METROPOLITAN BANK & TRUST COMPANY EMPLOYEES UNION-ALU-TUCP and ANTONIO V.BALINANG, petitioners, vs.  NATIONAL LABORRELATIONS COMMISSION (2nd Division) andMETROPOLITAN BANK & TRUST COMPANY,respondents.  Labor Law; National Labor Relations Commission; Wages; Theissue of whether or not a wage distortion exists as a consequence of the grant of a wage increase to certain employees is a question of factthe determination of which is the statutory function of the NLRC .·The issue of whether or not a wage distortion exists as aconsequence of the grant of a wage increase to certain employees,we agree, is, by and large, a question of fact the determination of which is the statutory function of the NLRC. Judicial review of labor cases, we may add, does not go beyond the evaluation of thesufficiency of the evidence upon which the labor officialsÊ findingsrest. As such, factual findings of the NLRC are generally accordednot only respect but also finality provided that its decisions aresupported by substantial evidence and devoid of any taint of unfairness or arbitrariness. When, however, the members of thesame labor tribunal are not in accord on those aspects of a case, asin this case, this Court is well cautioned not to be as so conscious inpassing upon the sufficiency of the evidence, let alone theconclusions derived therefrom. Same; Same; Same; Same; In mandating an adjustment, thelaw did not require that there be an elimination or total abrogationof quantitative wage or salary differences, a severe contractionthereof is enough.·  The definition of „wage distortion,‰ aforequoted,shows that such distortion can so exist when, as a result of anincrease in the prescribed wage rate, an „elimination or severe  contraction of intentional quantitative differences in wage or salaryrates‰ would occur „between and among employee groups in anestablishment as to effectively obliterate the distinctions embodiedin such wage structure based on skills, length of service, or otherlogical bases of differentiation.‰ In mandating an adjustment, thelaw did not require that there be an elimination or total abrogationof quantitative wage or salary differences; a severe contractionthereof is enough. As has been aptly _______________ *  THIRD DIVISION. 269  VOL. 226, SEPTEMBER 10, 1993269  Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company Employees Union-ALU-TUCP vs. National Labor Relations Commission observed by Presiding Commissioner Edna Bonto-Perez in herdissenting opinion, the contraction between personnel groupingscomes close to eighty-three (83%), which cannot, by any stretch of imagination, be considered less than severe. Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; The Solicitor General hascorrectly emphasized that the intention of the parties, whether thebenefits under a collective bargaining agreement should be equatedwith those granted by law or not unless there are compelling reasonsotherwise must prevail and be given effect .·The „intentionalquantitative differences‰ in wage among employees of the bank hasbeen set by the CBA to about P900 per month as of 01 January1989. It is intentional as it has been arrived at through thecollective bargaining process to which the parties are therebyconcluded. The Solicitor General, in recommending the grant of duecourse to the petition, has correctly emphasized that the intentionof the parties, whether the benefits under a collective bargaining agreement should be equated with those granted by law or not,unless there are compelling reasons otherwise, must prevail and begiven effect. PETITION for certiorari to review the decision of theNational Labor Relations Commission.  The facts are stated in the resolution of the Court.  Gilbert P. Lorenzo  for petitioners.   Marcial G. dela Fuente  for private respondents. RESOLUTION  VITUG,  J.: In this petition for certiorari, the Metropolitan Bank &Trust Company Employees Union-ALU-TUCP (MBTCEU)and its president, Antonio V. Balinang, raise the issue of whether or not the implementation by the MetropolitanBank and Trust Company of Republic Act No. 6727,mandating an increase in pay of P25 per day for certainemployees in the private sector, created a distortion thatwould require an adjustment under said law in the wagesof the latterÊs other various groups of employees.On 25 May 1989, the bank entered into a collectivebargaining agreement with the MBTCEU, granting amonthly P900 wage 270 270SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED  Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company Employees Union- ALU-TUCP vs. National Labor Relations Commission increase effective 01 January 1989, P600 wage increaseeffective 01 January 1990, and P200 wage increaseeffective 01 January 1991. The MBTCEU had alsobargained for the inclusion of probationary employees inthe list of employees who would benefit from the first P900increase but the bank had adamantly refused to accedethereto. Consequently, only regular employees as of 01January 1989 were given the increase to the exclusion of probationary employees.Barely a month later, or on 01 July 1989, Republic Act6727, „an act to rationalize wage policy determination byestablishing the mechanism and proper standards therefor,x x x fixing new wage rates, providing wage incentives forindustrial dispersal to the countryside, and for otherpurposes,‰ took effect. Its provisions, pertinent to this case,state.  „SEC. 4. (a) Upon the effectivity of this Act, the statutory minimumwage rates of all workers and employees in the private sector,whether agricultural or non-agricultural, shall be increased bytwenty five pesos (P25) per day, x x x: Provided, That those alreadyreceiving above the minimum wage rates up to one hundred pesos(P100.00) shall also receive an increase of twenty-five pesos(P25.00) per day, x x x.x x x x x x x x x(d) If expressly provided for and agreed upon in the collectivebargaining agreements, all increases in the daily basic wage ratesgranted by the employers three (3) months before the effectivity of this Act shall be credited as compliance with the increases in thewage rates prescribed herein, provided that, where such increasesare less than the prescribed increases in the wage lates under this Act, the employer shall pay the difference. Such increase shall notinclude anniversary wage increases, merit wage increase and thoseresulting from the regularization or promotion of employees.Where the application of the increases in the wage rates underthis Section results in distortions as defined under existing laws inthe wage structure within an establishment and gives rise to adispute therein, such dispute shall first be settled voluntarilybetween the parties and in the event of a deadlock, the same shallbe finally resolved through compulsory arbitration by the regionalbranches of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC)having jurisdiction over the workplace.It shall be mandatory for the NLRC to conduct continuoushearings and decide any dispute arising under this Section withintwenty 271  VOL. 226, SEPTEMBER 10, 1993271  Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company Employees Union-ALU-TUCP vs. National Labor Relations Commission (20) calendar days from the time said dispute is formally submittedto it for arbitration. The pendency of a dispute arising from a wagedistortion shall not in any way delay the applicability of theincrease in the wage rates prescribed under this Section.‰ Pursuant to the above provisions, the bank gave the P25increase per day, or P750 a month, to its probationaryemployees and to those who had been promoted to regularor permanent status before 01 July 1989 but whose dailyrate was P100 and below. The bank refused to give the
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