By MARYA SALAMAT
QUEZON City—The union representing a thousand media workers in ABS-CBN, the Philippines’ largest media network with presence in radio, free-to-air and cable television, protested since Wednesday this week the company’s “unjust dismissals and harassment” of its workers.
According to the ABS-CBN internal job market (IJM) workers’ union, the management has terminated, delayed, or rearranged the work schedules of dozens of ABS-CBN IJM workers since Wednesday midnight this week in retaliation for the workers’ refusal to kowtow to the company’s “bogus regularization.”
In a statement, the union said the termination as well as the sudden delays in some members’ work scheduling, which bordered on “constructive dismissal,” are being imposed on workers who refused to accept the company’s “discriminatory and conditional ‘regularization.’
“The law mandates we should enjoy it (regularization in the job) after 6 months of service, (but) some of us have been Kapamilyas (ABS-CBN employees) for many years now and have raised our own families while serving ABS-CBN without being regularized by the company,” said Antonio Perez, ABS-CBN IJM workers’ union president. “We want genuine regularization – granted to all those who deserve it. We want long-term job security,” Perez added.
Perez said their union hopes the ABS-CBN’s belated regularization of its members would not have to be accompanied by any “waiver of whatsoever rights or grievances.” It should also apply to all long-standing employees, said the ABS-CBN IJM union.
The ‘bogus regularization’ is currently being dangled by the ABS-CBN management to a few select workers, said the union. Worse, the so-called regularization comes with a “waiver of all complaints of the worker against the management, with no back-pay or recognition of the delayed regular status supposed to be granted to those who had served for long years already, among other conditions.”
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The ABS-CBN IJM workers are comprised mainly of employees in the technical operations division, production division and news and current affairs division of the network, doing camera work, lights, sounds, VTR, and others for almost all its entertainment and news programs. They thus perform important roles as forces in producing the shows and programs that generate enormous profits for ABS-CBN.
The ABS-CBN Corporation expects a “blockbuster” 2010 with net income expected to double to P3.4 billion ($74,090,215), up from its earlier projection of P2 billion ($43,582,479) , from P1.7 billion ($37,045,107) in 2009, which for its part represents a 23 percent increase from its net income in 2008 of P1.4 billion ($30,507,735).
With the workers demanding for their legally-mandated right to regularization, right to form a union and the right to collectively craft a bargaining agreement, the union had previously said in a statement, they would only carve just a pinch out of the ABS-CBN’s yearly profits.
But the ABS-CBN management appears to be thoroughly against the formation of the union , to the point of belying their own public branding. In denying its own workers’ plea for union recognition, the ABS-CBN practically turned its back on its immediate “kapamilya,” the union noted.
The ABS-CBN IJM workers have formed their union in March 2009. Since then, they said, they have been struggling against “various dirty tactics” of the management to bust it.
When the union filed for a petition for certification election in November 2009, “the management claimed that the IJM is an entity not under ABS-CBN, so there is no employer-employee relation between them and the IJM workers, despite evidences to the contrary. Thus there is supposed to be no basis for ABS-CBN to recognize the union.”
The “Kapamilya management is forcing IJM workers to change their employment status to take them out of union membership,” said the union. “They have offered – or forced – the bogus regular status to justify their claim that IJM workers are still not workers under ABS-CBN, and thus have no right to form a union and collectively bargain with ABS management,” Perez said.
“Because we have long resisted the bogus regularization offer, some of us were threatened one-by-one of losing our jobs if we do not bite the bait. Then it came to a point that Kapamilya President Gabby Lopez himself called for a special online open-chat with the workers last Tuesday afternoon.
“During the chat, he categorically said that if those workers offered with the regularization will not accept it until 12 midnight of Wednesday, then they will be terminated,” Perez narrated.
Some workers were indeed sent advisories or memos that their supposed schedule for Thursday was vacated or will be taken over by other employees. “We condemn this unjust practice which is tantamount to illegal termination and constructive dismissal,” Perez said.
Until now, the union refuses to accept that this is “the Kapamilya management’s way of treating supposed family members in their own backyard.” In a message, Perez said they will “consolidate” the union action plans this week. (Bulatlat.com)