The Negros Press: Keen on Unionism, but Constrained (First of a two parts)

Media workers in Negros see the gains they could reap from organizing their ranks. However, they are weighed down by a number of constraints.


BACOLOD CITY – Forming a union here is like flying to the moon – arduous but just the same possible.

Broadcasters and journalists here have long been keen on unionizing within their own establishments. The only problem is that they need to weather perceived obstacles; thus, they remain in “silent protest” and are too reluctant to act in the open.

“Miguel,” real name withheld, is a news director, anchorman and reporter of a local radio station. He has been in the media for almost seven years – he rose from the ranks, as colleagues describe him.

In a previous job, Miguel was one of those was who fought for decent wages and benefits. Unfortunately, he along with other employees was retrenched.

But Miguel favors organizing media unions. Media members as well as the technical staff should unite to fight for and ensure job security and benefits, he said.

“To form a union within an institution is building the power to bargain with the management,” he said. “But so far there has been no union here that I know of.”

Guillermo Tejida III, desk editor of Visayan Daily Star, also welcomes the idea. “Unionism in public and private sector is most welcome for this will lead to collective power on the part of the employees to lobby for their rights which are often neglected intentionally by the management,” he said.

It is high time, Tejida said, that the media got organized adding that public and private media practitioners alike seem to be closing their eyes to the reality that they are being abused despite the press’ own advocacy against these abuses.

“Media unionism is favorable as it will pave the way for better practice of the media profession. It will create better ties for a bolder fight for workers’ rights and bolster lobbying power,” said Tejida.

Constraints on unionization

He said that in Bacolod and elsewhere in the province, unionism is welcome but drastic measures might be needed since media practitioners may not readily fight for their rights knowing that their security of tenure would be at stake.

Nomer, not his real name, an engineer and chief technical officer at a local AM station spoke in behalf of the technical staff. He has been in the industry for almost a decade now. He said that technical staff people are vital in the news productions, either in broadcast or in print.

“If a reporter is absent there are lots of options to pursue the news but without a technical crew news wouldn’t go out,” he said.

Unlike many reporters, he said, most technical staffs rely solely on their wage for their families’ daily expenses. For his part, he chose to take up sidelines. Fellow workers, however, have no extra sources of income.

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