“I could say that we don’t have the dignity of labor. People who work at GMA often jested that talents are second-class citizens.”
By ANNE EDNALYN DELA CRUZ
On Tuesday, Feb. 10, Gabriela Women’s Party representatives Emmi de Jesus and Luz Ilagan and Quezon City 6th District representative Kit Belmonte, filed a resolution at the House of Representatives for a congressional inquiry on alleged violations of the labor code by GMA network against its contractual employees.
“I believe that media workers, who help keep the Filipino public informed and apprised of social justice issues must also be beneficiaries of social justice to keep their body and soul together and continue to provide this invaluable service to the nation,” Rep. Emmi De Jesus of Gabriela explained.
The resolution asked the Committee on Labor and Employment to conduct the probe.
De Jesus said that the case of GMA talents only underscores the inefficiency of the government to implement the Labor Code, specifically Article 280, which guarantees security of tenure of employees. She noted that cases of non-regularization and contractualization, not only in media networks but also in many other business and industrial enterprises, continue to rise.
“The case bolsters the need for passage of Gabriela’s legislative proposal House Bill 4396 or the Act Prohibiting Labor-only Contracting and Regulating Job Contracting and Subcontracting, which aims to outlaw labor contractualization – a system that keeps wages low and denies workplace benefits from long-suffering workers,” De Jesus added.
Sharon Masula, executive producer of Reel Time, an award-winning documentary program of GMA News TV, and member of Talents Association of GMA Network (TAG), shared the talents’ experiences and complaints against GMA Network labor policies and practice, at a forum held at the Center for Women’s Studies in University of the Philippines (UP) in January,.
“As talents, we are not entitled to government mandatory benefits such as SSS, Phil Health, and Pag-Ibig. Women talents, like me, do not have maternity leave. And since there is a “No work, no pay” policy for talents, some pregnant women are forced to come into the office and to go to shootings or tapings even if it may be risky for them and their babies,” Masula revealed, adding that there are also no sick leave, holiday pay, and vacation leave for talents.
Masula also claimed that there is also discrimination against talents when availing health service at the company clinic.
“When you go to the clinic and ask for service, they will ask you if you are a regular employee or a talent. If you are talent, you will not be provided service,” she said.
“I could say that we don’t have the dignity of labor. People who work at GMA often jested that talents are second-class citizens, as there are things that are not provided to them by the company,” Masula added.
TAG members previously filed a case at the National Labor Relations Commissions, citing the alleged non-regularization of long-serving employees. Members of TAG include camera persons, production assistants, editors, writers, researchers, segment and executive producers of various programs of GMA and GMA News TV.
As the TAG awaits the NLRC decision on their complaint, to be issued in March, the group partners with different organizations in holding discussions on the situation of media workers.
This February, TAG, together with the UP College of Mass Communication (UP-CMC), College Editors Guild of the Philippines, Kilusang Mayo Uno, and ABC Employees Union, organized an exhibit on media contractualization at the UP-CMC Old Film Lobby, which will run from February 9 to 20. There will also be a forum on media labor issues at Beltran Newsroom on February 12.
The group hopes to share their experiences and gain support for their demand for the regularization of talents, alongside benefits and salary increase, especially for those who have worked with the network for a long time.