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A couple of days ago, a group of employes from a publication company approached our legal office hoping they can avail of the free legal services being offered there for those who cannot afford to pay lawyers.

The employes, who were full of desperation saying they are going up against their own company whose owner is a powerful political figure who is filthy rich, said they sued their company for non-payment of monetary benefits amounting to tens of millions.

During the proceedings, the trademark of their publication was auctioned off by the intellectual property office (IPO) and the workers won, using the same amount of money their company owed them. The trademark was awarded to them.

Then, lo and behold! A woman who alleged to be representing an alleged independent company appeared before the IPO, claiming the trademark cannot be given to the workers since it was already given to her as payment for the money that the same company owed her.

The case had been archived but the workers suspect that the IPO decided in favor of the said woman, whom they claimed, is a member of the publication owner’s staff based in Makati City.

Now, the aggrieved workers are seeking free legal assistance for lack of money to pay for a laywer that would help them find out what happened to their case.

If the IPO decided in favor of the woman whom they said was used as a dummy, they want their case reopened and whoever favored the said woman be held accountable for anti-graft.

The mystery is this: How is the said publication company still able to use the said auctioned off trademark? Are they paying on a per-issue-basis for the use of the trademark that was already awarded to the employees?

Another set of employes, still from the same publication company, also sought the help of our free legal assistance team regarding their unremitted SSS contributions for many years.

The employes, who filed a class suit before the regional trial court, said that in the middle of the proceedings, another lady appeared as intervenor, claiming she, too, has some debts to collect from the said publication company.

To the surprise of the workers, the judge ruled against the company but instead of assigning the liquidation to the workers, it was given to the lady intervenor. The workers’ claims amounted to millions, much bigger than what the company supposedly owed the lady intervenor.

Our legal team was told that several more employes are also planning to sue for the same reason that their SSS contributions, though regularly deducted based on payslips, have not been remitted for years already.

In the case of the IPO issue, the law is clear. Article 110 of the Labor Code states that in the event of bankruptcy or liquidation of an employer’s business, his workers shall enjoy first preference as regards their wages and other monetary claims, any provisions of law to the contrary notwithstanding. Such unpaid wages and monetary claims shall be paid in full before claims of the government and other creditors may be paid.

On the non-remittance of SSS contributions, Under Section 28(e) of the Penal Clause of Republic Act 8282 or the Social Security Act of 1997, failure or refusal of an employer to register their employees, or to deduct contributions from the employee’s compensation and remit the same to the SSS, corresponds to a penalty of fine from P5,000 to P20,000 and imprisonment from six years to twelve years.

Any decent company that claims legitimacy of operations should know that employers are bound by law to strictly comply with Republic Act 8282 or the Social Security Act of 1997 by religiously paying the contributions and salary loan payments of their employees and remit them to SSS.

Abangan ang susunod na kabanata!!!

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