Mariveles Shipyard Corp. vs. Court of Appeals

G.R. No. 144134. November 11, 2003

FACTS:

Petitioner Mariveles Shipyard Corporation engaged the services of Longest Force Investigation and Security Agency, Inc to render security services. Pursuant to their agreement, Longest Force deployed its security guards at the petitioner’s shipyard.

However, it found the services being rendered by the assigned guards unsatisfactory and inadequate, causing it to terminate its contract with Longest Force

The security guards filed a case for illegal dismissal, underpayment of wages, non-payment of overtime pay, holiday, rest day pay and attorney’s fees, against both Longest Force and petitioner.

Longest force admitted the non-payment of wage differential but passed the liability to petitione ralleging that the service fee paid was below the required rate.

The petitioner denied any liability on account of the alleged illegal dismissal, stressing that no employer-employee relationship existed between it and the security guards.

The Labor Arbiter ordered Longest Force Investigation & Security Agency, Inc. and Mariveles Shipyard Corporation jointly and severally liable to pay the money claims of complainants. The NLRC affirmed in toto the decision of the Labor Arbiter.

ISSUE:

WON petitioner should not be held jointly and severally liable with Longest Force for underpayment of wages and overtime pay because it had been religiously and promptly paying the bills for the security services sent by Longest Force and that these are in accordance with the statutory minimum wage.

HELD:

No, Under Labor Code, In the event that the contractor or subcontractor fails to pay the wages of his employees in accordance with this Code, the employer shall be jointly and severally liable with his contractor or subcontractor to such employees to the extent of the work performed under the contract, in the same manner and extent that he is liable to employees directly employed by him.

Petitioner cannot evade its liability by claiming that it had religiously paid the compensation of guards as stipulated under the contract with the security agency. Labor standards are enacted by the legislature to alleviate the plight of workers whose wages barely meet the spiraling costs of their basic needs. Labor laws are considered written in every contract. Stipulations in violation thereof are considered null.

Employers cannot hide behind their contracts in order to evade their (or their contractors’ or subcontractors’) liability for noncompliance with the statutory minimum wage.

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