Retrenched Napocor employees get back wages

Published February 11, 2021, 7:30 AM

by Myrna M. Velasco

Former employees of state-run National Power Corporation (NPC) who were retrenched due to its privatization roughly two decades ago will finally get their back wages, as underpinned by a Supreme Court ruling on the Drivers and Mechanics Association (DAMA) case; that was also subsequently affirmed by the Commission on Audit.

NPC President and CEO Pio J. Benavidez announced through the media that “the payment of claims shall be on alphabetical basis,” and according to the batches as validated by COA.

It has to be noted that NPC’s successor-company Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) earmarked P3.702 billion for claims of the dismissed NPC employees that have been covered in the DAMA case.

Benavidez said “the claimants or their authorized representatives shall be informed when they are to proceed to Napocor cashier’s office to claim their checks.”

He explained that such system was enforced “to ensure orderly distribution of payments and that the necessary health protocols are observed to prevent transmission of Covid-19.”

When the divestment of the NPC assets had been implemented as anchored on the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), thousands of employees of the government-run company had been separated from service and were paid with separation benefits equivalent to 1.5 months of pay per year of service.

Majority of these displaced employees had been rehired by NPC; as well as by spin-off firms PSALM and National Transmission Corporation. Still, it was emphasized that 1,763 employees never got the chance to be reinstated.

The power firm expounded that a significant fraction of the employees who were not rehired included DAMA members, who then became instrumental in contesting their fate – initially through the Board Resolutions issued by the NPC Board that implemented their retrenchments.

The DAMA case had been elevated to the Courts; and it was in 2016, when the high court ruled that the NPC Board Resolutions that became the basis of their retrenchments had been “void”, hence, they were warranted to claim back wages.

It was in November 21, 2017 when the Supreme Court ordered the payment of backs wages to the retrenched NPC employees for a mammoth amount of P34.7 billion.

And while the state-run firm always wanted to abide by the SC decision, it deemed that it would be prudent to validate and verify first the accuracy of the total number of employees, as the total count was initially placed at 8,000.

With such premise then, NPC and PSALM sought the assistance of the COA “to validate not only the number of qualified employees who are entitled for payment but also the appropriate amount of back wages to be paid since all retrenched employees already received their separation pay.”