Court of Appeals (File photo)

MANILA – The Court of Appeals (CA) has dismissed a suit filed by a technology firm which questioned a ruling by the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) on an illegal dismissal case of two engineers hired under fixed-term contracts.

In a 20-page decision promulgated May 25, the appellate court dismissed the petition filed by electronic manufacturer Huawei Technologies Phils. Inc.

Huawei took the case to the CA to question the Dec. 29, 2020 decision of the NLRC, which reversed the ruling of the labor arbiter and ruled that electronics and communications engineers, Jerome Pichay and Ricardo Aquino Sampang Jr., were regular employees who were illegally dismissed.

Pichay was hired in 2014 for a project and eventually rehired for a fixed term ending Jan. 15, 2019.

Sampang, on the other hand was first hired in 2010 with subsequent contracts for fixed term employment, the last of which was terminated on July 18, 2018.

The NLRC ruled that for almost a decade under successive fixed-term contracts, the two performed tasks necessary for Huawei’s businesses and that the contracts were designed to prevent them from acquiring regular employment status.

The company was ordered to pay PHP4.75 million representing separation pay in lieu of reinstatement and full back wages.

“There is no genuine freedom to contract when a fixed-term employment is used as a vehicle to exploit the economic disadvantage of workers like Pichay and Sampang,” the CA said, adding “that employees agree to be repeatedly hired on a fixed-term basis only reveals the deeper problem of poverty and (the) growing economic inequality between labor and capital”. (PNA)