“TAG is confident that the decisions of the arbiter and commissioner of the NLRC are affirmations that we have a solid case for regularization.”
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – The National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) junked the appeal of GMA-7 management and affirmed that the talents of the giant network are regular employees.
In a decision dated Sept. 30, the NLRC Special Fourth Division upheld the labor arbiter’s June 22 ruling declaring the 106 members of the Talents Association of GMA (TAG) as regular employees and are thus entitled to security of tenure and all 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. The TAG filed the regularization case against GMA last year.
The NLRC resolution signed by Commissioner Numeranio Villena debunked the GMA 7 management’s claims that TAG members are not regular employees and are “independent contractors.” Villena said an employer-employee relationship exists between the GMA 7 and the talents based on the four-fold test.
To determine the employer-employee relationship, the four criteria should be present: 1) the selection and engagement of the employee; 2) the payment of wages; 3) the power of dismissal; and, 4) the employer’s power to control the employee on the means and methods by which the work is accomplished.
On the first criterion, the NLRC said records show that GMA 7 itself engaged and hired talents for various positions.
On the second criterion, the NLRC said GMA 7 paid the wages of talents for the services they rendered. The pay slips issued by the management to the talents substantiated this.
On the third criterion, the NLRC said GMA 7 has the power of dismissal over the talents.
Citing the Supreme Court decision Begino v. ABS-CBN Corporation, the NLRC stated that the fourth criterion is the most crucial and determinative criterion. The NLRC said it was GMA that controlled the talents on the means, manner, procedures and ways of accomplishing their jobs. The NLRC regarded as substantial evidence the job descriptions, general terms of talent agreements, guidelines, memoranda, house rules, among others, to prove this point.
The NLRC further asserted that the GMA failed to present any evidence to show that any of the talents are independent contractors.
The NLRC also said the talents were “undoubtedly performing functions and activities which are usually necessary in GMA’s usual trade or business of television broadcasting and programming. TAG members were hired as segment producers, head writers, program researchers, cameramen, executive producers, edit supervisors, among others.
The NLRC shall issue an entry of judgment within 30 days for the decision to be executory, but GMA Network may file for a motion for reconsideration within ten days.
The GMA can also file for a Temporary Restraining Order and take other legal actions. Depending on the results, the case may reach as high up as the Supreme Court.
“TAG is confident that the decisions of the arbiter and commissioner of the NLRC are affirmations that we have a solid case for regularization. We are also confident that the Supreme Court will render a favorable ruling should the case reach their hands,” the group said in a statement.
For colleagues, other contractual workers
TAG dedicated its victory to their colleagues from the GMA regional bureaus who were “unjustly retrenched.”
In April, some 200 media workers in several GMA-7 regional stations were laid off.
“We’re not doing this just for ourselves. We are doing this for every one of our colleagues in the media industry who have dedicated their lives to this craft without proper compensation and social security,” TAG said.