[LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.]
In the present incident, petitioner Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) moves for reconsideration of our Decision dated August 10, 2010, holding that former employees of the Far East Bank and Trust Company (FEBTC) “absorbed” by BPI pursuant to the two banks’ merger were covered by the Union Shop Clause in the then existing collective bargaining agreement (CBA) of BPI with respondent BPI Employees Union-Davao Chapter-Federation of Unions in BPI Unibank (the Union).
Whether or not employees are absorbed in a merger of the two corporations.
It is more in keeping with the dictates of social justice and the State policy of according full protection to labor to deem employment contracts as automatically assumed by the surviving corporation in a merger, even in the absence of an express stipulation in the articles of merger or the merger plan. In his dissenting opinion, Justice Brion reasoned that:
To my mind, due consideration of Section 80 of the Corporation Code, the constitutionally declared policies on work, labor and employment, and the specific FEBTC-BPI situation — i.e., a merger with complete “body and soul” transfer of all that FEBTC embodied and possessed and where both participating banks were willing (albeit by deed, not by their written agreement) to provide for the affected human resources by recognizing continuity of employment — should point this Court to a declaration that in a complete merger situation where there is total takeover by one corporation over another and there is silence in the merger agreement on what the fate of the human resource complement shall be, the latter should not be left in legal limbo and should be properly provided for, by compelling the surviving entity to absorb these employees. This is what Section 80 of the Corporation Code commands, as the surviving corporation has the legal obligation to assume all the obligations and liabilities of the merged constituent corporation.
Not to be forgotten is that the affected employees managed, operated and worked on the transferred assets and properties as their means of livelihood; they constituted a basic component of their corporation during its existence. In a merger and consolidation situation, they cannot be treated without consideration of the applicable constitutional declarations and directives, or, worse, be simply disregarded. If they are so treated, it is up to this Court to read and interpret the law so that they are treated in accordance with the legal requirements of mergers and consolidation, read in light of the social justice, economic and social provisions of our Constitution. Hence, there is a need for the surviving corporation to take responsibility for the affected employees and to absorb them into its workforce where no appropriate provision for the merged corporation’s human resources component is made in the Merger Plan.
By upholding the automatic assumption of the non-surviving corporation’s existing employment contracts by the surviving corporation in a merger, the Court strengthens judicial protection of the right to security of tenure of employees affected by a merger and avoids confusion regarding the status of their various benefits which were among the chief objections of our dissenting colleagues. However, nothing in this Resolution shall impair the right of an employer to terminate the employment of the absorbed employees for a lawful or authorized cause or the right of such an employee to resign, retire or otherwise sever his employment, whether before or after the merger, subject to existing contractual obligations. In this manner, Justice Brion’s theory of automatic assumption may be reconciled with the majority’s concerns with the successor employer’s prerogative to choose its employees and the prohibition against involuntary servitude.
Notwithstanding this concession, the Court finds no reason to reverse our previous pronouncement that the absorbed FEBTC employees are covered by the Union Shop Clause.
[See the original Decision dated August 10, 2010, reversing the ruling on the absorption of employees in a merger.]