Members of the Talents Association of GMA (TAG) staged the work stoppage and the June 5 protest action in response to the management’s withholding of their salaries.
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – Ross Timbad, segment producer at GMA 7, has not reported for work since Tuesday, June 2.
Timbad said she is taking the risk of losing her job of eight years for the future of her nine-month-old son.
Speaking at a protest action in front of the GMA 7 compound in Quezon City, June 5, Timbad recalled how she dragged her feet to work until two weeks before giving birth. “It’s no work, no pay [for talents like me]. I could not afford to have maternity leave,” she told Bulatlat.com in an interview.
Timbad is one of the 43 talents who have stopped reporting for duty since this week. ‘Talents’ is the euphemism used by the GMA 7 management for those who are not considered regular employees despite years of service.
Members of the Talents Association of GMA (TAG) staged the work stoppage and the June 5 protest action in response to the management’s withholding of their salaries. Last month, talents’ salaries have been reverted to checks, and which will be released upon issuance of acknowledgment receipts (AR). TAG members have maintained they are regular employees and thus do not need to issue AR.
Over 100 TAG members have filed a complaint before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) last year. After more than a year, the case remains pending.
Shao Masula, TAG vice president, said their members already received return-to-work memorandums since Wednesday, June 4.
Timbad said some of them have been threatened with dismissal for joining TAG. “They [management] said they could easily replace us. Are you giving in to the pressure?” she asked her colleagues. She got a resounding “No.”
“I know that many of us are only eating dilis (dried fish) these days,” Timbad said. “Egg!” one of the talents responded. “I am proud of all of you,” Timbad told her colleagues.
Campus journalists and mass communication students joined the protest action.
Ria Tagle, chairperson of the Student Council of University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (UP-CMC) thanked TAG for “fighting for the future of the next generation of media practitioners.”
Marc Lino Abila, national president of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) condemned the labor repression against GMA 7 talents.
Michelle Ann Ruiz, vice chairperson of the Student Council of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines College of Communication, also expressed the PUP students’ solidarity with TAG.
Contactual labor rampant
Sonny Fernandez, one of the directors of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), said contractualization is rampant in the media industry.
Fernandez announced the formation of Media Labor Association and Assistance Center (Mlac), which aims to help media workers with labor problems. Mlac has been formed by NUJP, TAG, ABS-CBN IJM (Internal Job Market), ABC Employees Union, Philippine Daily Inquirer union and Inquirer Correspondents Association.
“Is there such a thing as forever?” Fernandez asked the crowd. “You cannot be forever talents but you can be regular employees forever.”
Cong Corrales, another NUJP director, said “there can be no press freedom if the economic conditions of journalists remain pitiful.”
In his message of solidarity, Roger Soluta, secretary general of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), said contractualization is the biggest enemy of workers not only in the Philippines but also in other countries.
Soluta said contractual workers get low pay and are denied of their right to form or join unions, right to benefits and right to security of tenure.
Ria Alegre of the All Workers Unity told GMA 7 talents, “You are not contractual employees but are treated such using anti-labor laws.”
Alegre praised TAG for standing up for all the contractual workers in the media. She called on all journalists and media workers to organize themselves and fight contractualization.
Members of Altermidya, a national network of alternative media groups and practitioners, also joined the protest action.