“The employment status of a person is defined and prescribed by law and not by what the parties say it should be.”
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – Talents of giant network GMA 7 have been declared as regular employees by the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC).
In a resolution dated June 22, Labor Arbiter Julio Gayaman said the 107 members of the Talents Association of GMA (TAG) are entitled to security of tenure and other benefits.
“Talent” is the euphemism used by GMA 7 management to refer to employees it does not consider regular despite years of service. They do not have benefits, even those mandated by law such as the13th month pay.
Gayaman said TAG members are necessary and desirable to GMA’s operations and added that the Talent Contract that establishes no employer-employee relationship is “not legally binding.”
The resolution, issued more than a year after the filing of the regularisation case, states, “the employment status of a person is defined and prescribed by law and not by what the parties say it should be.” The labor arbiter agrees with TAG in its position that based on Article 280 of the Labor Code, its members are employees of the network.
Article 280 states that “an employment shall be deemed to be regular where the employee has been engaged to perform activities which are usually necessary or desirable in the usual business or trade of the employer, except where the employment has been fixed for a specific project or undertaking the completion or termination of which has been determined at the time of the engagement of the employee or where the work or service to be performed is seasonal in nature and the employment is for the duration of the season.”
Gamayan also orders GMA Network to reinstate the workers it has dismissed. This order is immediately executory even pending an appeal.
GMA Network Inc. can appeal with the Commission within 10 calendar days from receipt of the resolution. If and when GMA appeals the resolution, the case will be elevated to the Committee level of the NLRC. The case can reach the Regional Trial Court and can go as high as the Supreme Court should it be appealed by whichever party.
The TAG estimates the case can last up to five years. “…we are committed to see this fight through. We will continue to exhaust all legal means to prove we are employees. We will once again take this fight to the streets if we have to,” TAG said.
The TAG said it would continue its campaign to inform the public of the labor plight of media practitioners and to call on the Congress and government agencies to address the issue of contractual labor.
“We share this victory with our colleagues in the industry who remain enslaved to this rotten system, and all other contractual workers in the country,” the TAG said.
In a statement, Altermidya, a national network of alternative media outfits and practitioners, congratulated TAG for their initial victory.
Benjie Oliveros, Altermidya spokesperson, “We hope that other journalists and media practitioners who suffer the same forms of labor exploitation take inspiration from the TAG’s fight. ”