Reposted from the website of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines
To these colleagues at TAG, journalism is public service, a vehicle that uses the power of stories to expose social injustices, with the hope of turning the situation around. The irony of it is that they themselves have been alienated from the justice they seek and occasionally obtain for the voiceless and disenfranchised.
The harsh mishandling of GMA 7 management in explaining the Bureau of Internal Revenue policy requiring talents and contractuals to register as professionals angered the workers, and prompted them to seek legal remedies to question their non-regular status before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC).
But instead of working out a compromise, the management responded with callousness. They offered project employment contracts, making employment status coterminous with the programs on which they are working; and slapped workers with nonrenewal if they refuse to concede to the policy. As a result, scores of employees, from makeup artists to executive producers, have lost their jobs since the end of 2014, excluded from Christmas bonuses and receiving no separation pays.
A number of them practically grew old with GMA, having served the company uninterruptedly and often under conditions of near-servitude, and gave it local and international prestige with their work. Sadly, as this sorry episode illustrates, loyalty and good work ethic are not enough to spare them from the unfortunate consequences of a revolting obsession with profit.
Months later, the labor situation in GMA took an uglier turn with the retrenchment of at least 200 employees under the station’s regional news teams. The massive layoff, and the precedent incidents that similarly reflected a wanton disregard for labor rights, are beyond deplorable. We have not expected such moves from a company that prides itself as being kapuso ng bawat Pilipino (one with every Filipino’s heart).
The situation faced by the Kapuso employees is not unique. In the last five years, we have seen big media companies like ABS-CBN and TV5 terminate hundreds of their employees like dispensable pawns, often without sufficient warning.
Meanwhile, in the provinces, scores of our colleagues work in the frontlines as correspondents and stringers for the major news outfits, mostly in conflict zones and political hotspots, without the benefit of job security or assistance in times of distress, and for wages that often fall short behind the minimum wage.
We ask by what right can media employers and managers claim to be of service to the Filipinos and defenders of the rights to free press and expression when they deprive their very own employees of their basic rights to just compensation, and dangle the threat of joblessness against those who would speak up to demand what is theirs by law and birthright?
This has to end.
We at NUJP urge the media outfits to live by their respective slogans and treat all their workers with fairness and compassion—compensate their employees properly, reimburse them promptly, and provide them with insurance and other benefits to shield them from the everyday hazards of what remains a dangerous trade. We also ask the government to act swiftly to end the unjust system of contractualization that has since shackled workers to onerous working conditions.
We likewise call on all Filipino journalists to band together and collectively work to end this system of oppression—to have not only the balls to fight injustice as our colleagues in TAG have done for the past year, but also the heart to spare future media workers like journalists from suffering the same depressing conditions when they enter the profession. Let us organize ourselves and work for our collective welfare.
Time and again we have said, and will never tire of saying, that a press can never claim freedom if journalists’ voices are under constant threat of being permanently muted, their principles thinned by fear, and their stomachs grumbling in hunger.
Rupert Francis Mangilit
View the original post here: http://www.nujp.org/2015/05/statement-of-support-to-the-talents-association-of-gma-tag/