“Our fight for the rights of media workers was long and winding, but we won. Sacrifices had been made, lives have been drastically changed, but we have persevered because we knew that we were on the side of justice.”
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – Nearly two years after filing a complaint, 105 talents of GMA 7 have been declared as regular employees in a final decision issued by the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC).
In a final entry of judgment issued February 17 by Deputy Executive Clerk of Court Ma. Roselette Gonzalo, the NLRC upheld its earlier decision in favor of GMA 7 talents and dismissed the appeal of GMA 7 management.
Ninety-seven of the complainants who still work for GMA are considered regular employees of the network while the remaining eight complainants who have resigned from their jobs are considered regular only up to the date preceding their resignation. One talent has withdrawn from the case.
In a statement sent to Bulatlat, members of the Talents Association of GMA (TAG), welcomed the decision. “Our fight for the rights of media workers was long and winding, but we won. Sacrifices had been made, lives have been drastically changed, but we have persevered because we knew that we were on the side of justice,” TAG said.
In an NLRC-mediated meeting between TAG and GMA Network, April 26, the company’s lawyer said that management would abide by the decision even though they do not agree with it. The TAG said further meetings would be held to ensure a smooth transition.
The TAG vowed to continue the struggle for labor rights noting that “many media workers remain under exploitative labor conditions–being paid with meager salaries, without any benefits or even security of tenure.”
The group said one of its members Micholl Mabinta continues to fight for her right as an individual case-filer against the network. Mabinta’s case has been dismissed for “lack of merit”, despite similar conditions with other TAG members who were declared as regular employees of the network. The TAG said it will appeal the decision on Mabinta’s case to the NLRC.
The group also called on the government “to dig deeper into the injustices inside the media industry.” The TAG noted that while the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) recently released an advisory pushing for the strict compliance of an eight-hour working period for film and TV workers, there are far more issues that need to be addressed in the industry–most importantly, on contractualization.
“Contractualization has silently killed the dreams of talented and passionate Filipinos…” TAG said.
TAG also sent out a message to other media workers, “To our colleagues in the media who are still afraid to fight for their rights, may our victory serve as a wake-up call. There is strength in numbers, and we have proven time and time again that there is nothing that we cannot do if we do it together.”
“As the nation celebrates Labor Day, may we all remember the huge role that workers play in the growth of companies and the economy, and that we should be rewarded with the rightful benefits and security that we deserve,” TAG concluded.