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18 workers win P3.7M claim for severance pay with LRTA

EIGHTEEN former employees of the Metro Transit Organization Inc. (Metro) have won their petition against the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) for payment of the 50 percent balance of their severance pay.

In a decision, the Commission on Audit partially granted the claimants’ petition albeit for a much lower sum of P3.7 million compared to the P11.467 million they were hoping for.

Records showed the petitioners were among Metro workers whose services were terminated in 2000 after it ceased operations due to the non-renewal of its agreement with LRTA as a result of an illegal labor strike that paralyzed rail services.

The COA noted that the 18 claimants later joined the LRTA workforce without a break in employment.

The LRTA, through Resolution No. 00-44 issued July 28, 2000, declared that it would shoulder the administrative expenses of Metro for two months.

On April 5, 2001, the Board of Directors of the LRTA approved the first 50 percent severance pay of displaced Metro employees since it was the only amount that could be accommodated by the Employees Retirement Fund.

Due to the non-payment of the second half of their severance package, former Metro workers filed various cases against the LRTA.

The Supreme Court overturned all rulings by labor arbiters and the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) against the LRTA on the ground that, being a government-owned or controlled corporation, is outside their jurisdictions.

However, the High Court granted monetary claims against the LRTA that were anchored on the termination of the agreement between and Metro.

The 18 petitioners said they did not sue the LRTA but should be entitled to collect the 50 percent balance of their severance pay.

Aside from the P3.704 million representing half of their severance pay, they also added P1.44 million as attorney’s fees and 12 percent interest computed from May 2001 to June 2013 and six percent from July 2013 to July 2019 totaling P6.73 million.

The COA, however, declared they are only entitled to the severance pay balance and six percent interest computed only starting September 20, 2019 when the decision of the Panel of Voluntary Arbitrators became final.

“The petitioners