“We will not make compromises on the matter of our job security and our right to unionize. We will not allow RMN to accomplish its ultimate objective of busting our union and depriving us of our rights arising from being unionized.”
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – Members of RMN Davao Employees Union, an affiliate of National Federation of Labor Unions and Kilusang Mayo Uno, launched a strike since October 2 to protest RMN’s alleged disregard of their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). The key provisions on job security in the CBA, which was signed in 2012, are not being followed, the union said. The strike paralyzed the radio’s AM and FM stations in their covered areas.
Section 2 of Article 3 of their CBA provides that “Work assignments shall at all times be given to regular workers based on their individual job description/appointment.” Section 3 provides that in case an employee resigns or becomes disabled, he or she will be replaced by a qualified dependent of union members, or the union may recommend an applicant.
Before launching the strike, the union attended fifteen (15) conciliation conferences mediated by the Labor department. In a statement, the union said RMN is “culpable of gross violation of CBA provisions.”
The union believes that the RMN management’s “grand design” is union busting.
Since 2012, the unionists noted that RMN has deliberately refused to fill up the positions being vacated by regular workers as per the CBA’s job security provisions. They consider this “a blatant attempt to systematically diminish union membership and eventually eradicate it.”
Instead of hiring probationary and regular workers as replacement, RMN reportedly hired employees they call as “talents,” ignoring the hiring process provided in their CBA.
Another way by which RMN has been decimating the union is by creating positions outside of the organizational structure, and then promoting the union members to these positions.
As such, from a union membership of 22 members, it went down to 17. If the union allows the management’s unfair labor practice to continue, their membership would continue to shrink until the union ceases to exist.
“What is also alarming is that RMN management has championed Oplan Bayanihan by hiring two “talents”, Erin Lumosbog and Joel Viray, whose sole purpose is incessantly attacking the Union on air and maliciously linking it to the communist movement,” said Gina Hitgano, union president. She said there is a similarity in the attacks by Lumosbog and Viray and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP). It bolsters the unionists’ suspicion that RMN management is in cahoots with the AFP-PNP in implementing Oplan Bayanihan as a means of stamping out legitimate dissent and valid exercise of democratic rights.
The RMN unionists said they went on strike to protest not just the gross violation of their CBA, but also the gross violation of their right to organize and freedom of association.
“We will not make compromises on the matter of our job security and our right to unionize. We will not allow RMN to accomplish its ultimate objective of busting our union and depriving us of our rights arising from being unionized,” said Hitgano.
In a statement, the RMN union said the anti-worker attitude of their management suffuses their struggle with political implications.
“The RDEU-NAFLU-KMU remains steadfast and united despite the media industry’s powerful lobby in creating a new category of workers so that they can circumvent accountability in regularizing their workers,” the union said. Aside from RMN, many of their non-unionized colleagues in the media industry have suffered massive layoffs and retrenchment.