The meaning of full protection to labor
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - March 14, 2020 - 12:00am

There is no Department of Management, only a Department of Labor And Employment. Management has all the money and the influence, resources, and the lawyers to defend its rights and interests. Labor, especially the poor, unlettered, and unassisted, often stands alone and unprotected. Thus the Constitution gives more in law to those who have less in life.

In the early years of our legal system, as any freshman law student would tell you Justice Jose P. Laurel wrote a classic decision in the case of Calalang vs. Williams, whereby he explained that laws should be made humane and the social and economic forces should be made equal because the most supreme of all laws is that which promotes the welfare of the people. And since the people mostly belong to the working class, labor laws are really instruments of the state to afford protection to labor, and means to promote social justice. And it is not communism, not atomism, it is protection to give labor a fighting chance.

In the context of today's world, full protection to labor means protecting the workers from the abuses of some cruel, conscienceless and dishonest employers, those who make employees casuals and contractuals forever, who don’t pay the correct wages, deny all the benefits provided by law, dismiss workers indiscriminately, bust unions and commit all forms of discriminations and unfair labor practices. Those who bribe arbiters and judges and force complainants to sign quitclaims under duress and intimidation, deceit, and all forms of injustice and oppression.

Full protection to labor also means protecting the workers from dishonest union leaders who act as union dealers, but who make money selling away the rights of the workers. The law protects workers from unions who conspire with management to commit all forms of injustice against labor. The law also protects labor from unscrupulous and unethical lawyers who demand attorney's fees beyond the limits set forth by law. The law even protects labor from some government officials and personnel who commit grave abuse of discretion, who are overbearing and abusive, those who are lazy, inept, and neglectful of their duties.

Above all, the state through the law protects labor against workers' own naiveté, ignorance, lack of foresight and lack of wisdom. Thus, when they sign quitclaims, resignations, and waivers under undue influence or when they were forced, intimidated, coerced, deceived or hoodwinked. They are also freed from contracts with terms and conditions which are grossly disadvantageous to labor, and whose consideration is shocking to the conscience. Thus, even if a worker already resigns, he can still file a case of illegal dismissal if he was misled or terrorized to sign such a document.

We hasten to end this piece by reminding one and all that protection to labor should not mean oppression of capital. To help labor in a manner that will destroy management is not the intent of both the Constitution and the law. We should not kill the goose that lays the golden egg.

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