By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – Workers of a radio station based in Davao City are gearing for a strike after the management insisted on a moratorium on increases in salaries and benefits.
Members of the Radio Mindanao Network Davao Employees’ Union (RDEU), filed a notice of strike at the Department of Labor and Employment-National Conciliation and Mediation Board (DOLE-NCMB)-XI, Sept. 17.
The union declared a deadlock in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiations with the Radyo Mo Nationwide management, formerly called Radio Mindanao Network –DXDC Davao (RMN-DXDC Davao), Sept. 23, when the latter refused to grant any of the workers’ economic demands. The management is claiming a P7.9 million ($179,300) financial loss last year.
The rank-and-file employees of RMN Davao are seeking a P75 ($1.70) increase in their daily wage of P342 ($8.44). They later lowered their demand to a P68 ($1.54) increase plus one sack of rice monthly per worker.
The additional economic benefits being sought by RMN Davao rank-and-file workers would cost the station around P99,000 ($2,247) per month. According to the union, the RMN Davao station alone earns P18 million ($408,534) monthly from advertising placements.
Rey Hernan Fabe, president of the RDEU, belied the management’s claim that the company is incurring losses, saying that based on the number of monthly advertisement spots alone, RMN’s combined income from its Davao AM and FM stations is around P24 million ($544,712) monthly.
In a statement, the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) expressed full support for the radio workers. KMU said news posted on the RMN’s website also runs contrary to the company’s claim that its profit is decreasing. RMN is consistently the top radio station in Davao and is earning a lot.
“We have full support for the workers of RMN Davao who are fighting for a wage hike. Workers’ demand for a significant wage hike is just, especially when the company is earning millions from the workers’ labor,” said Roger Soluta, KMU secretary general.
RMN AM Davao station garnered 37.1 percent share points, higher by 17 percent compared to its nearest rival, according to the radio website.
Soluta noted that financial losses have been the mantra of companies for pressing down workers’ wages and cutting ‘costs’ in implementing contractualization and other labor flexibization schemes, citing the case of Philippine Airlines.
KMU also condemned the company for removing union members’ daily radio programs, assigning them to field work, and denying meal allowances, saying these are clear indications of harassment.
In a separate statement, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)-Davao said, “Our fellow media workers’ demands are legitimate, their move to declare a deadlock in the eight session of the ongoing CBA negotiations is the rightful thing to do against an employer who has shown no regard for its workers’ welfare.”
CBA negotiations started June 28 this year, a month after the workers voted out a management-favored union, and installed their own sole bargaining unit, the RDEU.
The workers of RMN Davao have formed themselves into a union in August last year after the former station manager, Mario Maximo “Dodong” Solis was illegally dismissed by the management. Three others, including NUJP-Davao chairperson Jessie Casalda, formerly news director of RMN Davao, were forced to resign from their positions.
“Where a humane working condition is sorely absent in the case of most of media workers in the country today, the example shown by our fellows at RMN Davao, is truly inspiring,” Casalda said.
“We uphold the collective action taken by our fellow media workers by way of practicing their constitutionally guaranteed rights – the rights to freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining and the right to strike, if only to attain what is due them,” Casalda added.