GMA-7 Talents light candles, offer prayers in campaign against labor injustice
Jun 4, 2015
by Max B. Santiago
On June 3, members of Talents Association of GMA (TAG) lit candles and offered prayers at the Sacred Heart Parish in Quezon City .
Dubbed “Isang Kandila at Dasal para sa mga Kontraktuwal,” the activity is part of TAG’s campaign to raise awareness regardless labor injustice throughout the country.
TAG president Christian Cabaluna decried harassment by television network giant GMA-7 against talents.
Talents is a term used by the network to describe professionals working on a per show basis. These include executive producers, associate producers, segment producers, writers, researchers, edit supervisors, production coordinators, transcribers, and crew members of various programs’ technical teams.
Unlike regular employees, they are denied security of tenure and other benefits.
Salaries of 52 dismissed talents are withheld since December 2014. Months after, GMA-7 has crafted a new policy for salary disbursement for talents.
Acknowledgement Receipt as form of harassment
Talents would have to issue an ‘acknowledgement receipt’ or AR upon claiming payment. Such payment are to be considered as ‘fees’ and not salary, according to Cabaluna.
“Most of us are out working in the field, and some live far away. It would be inconvenient for us if we would have to travel all the way to Quezon City, wait in line for our cheques to be processed by the bank just to claim our salary”, said Cabaluna.
“We are not service providers. In fact,it is stipulated in our contract that our salaries should be deposited in the bank,” he added.
Cabaluna said that TAG agreed to their policy on the condition that they change the word ‘fees’ into ‘salary’. The network disagreed, stating the that issuance of the acknowledgement receipt is for documentation purposes only.
“If it were only for documentary purposes, then we find nothing wrong if we put a disclaimer which states that the AR would not be used against us,” said Cabaluna. Again, the management of GMA refused to include the disclaimer.
“If we sign the acknowledgement receipt, it would be tantamount to accepting the fact that we are not regular employees,” lamented Cabaluna.
Harassment, discrimination continues
In the entire network, TAG members were the only ones not given Christmas bonuses last December, said Cabaluna.
Members of TAG are also prohibited from engaging duties from other programs within the network.
“I used to work in five shows, but now I only have one show. They do not want me to handle any other shows. They tell the other shows not to accept ‘case-filers’,” lamented Cabaluna.
On May 25 of last year, TAG file a legal case against the media giant at the National Labor Relations Commission for unfair labor practice.
“The harassment on TAG members doesn’t stop there,” said Cabaluna. Even after working at GMA, “The HR division of GMA contacts their counterparts on other networks and they tell them that there are legal implications if they hire members of TAG,” he added.
According to Cabaluna, “our contracts state that if we leave GMA, we could not work in another network within a six-month exclusivity period”.
“This is the only profession we know. They withheld our salaries and prevent us from earning a decent living,” lamented Cabaluna.
The TAG president added that the pending regularization case at the NLRC would take longer because arbiter Enrique Flores Jr. resigned recently.
Their case had to be raffled again and it would take at least three months before a decision would be handed down. Almost a year has elapsed since the case was filed.
“I think they are just waiting for us to resign. They are testing our endurance,” said Cabaluna.
Last April, an estimated 200 employees were retrenched by GMA. Regional News teams based in Cebu, Bacolod, Davao, Naga, Cagayan de Oro, and Ilocos suffered from the said layoffs.
“Hundreds more will be retrenched from the main office. Keeping contractual employees is favorable for the network, as they (GMA) would have to pay less benefits” said Cabaluna.
Despite the events that transpired, Cabaluna says TAG remains firm in its fight against contractualization. “Wala kaming ibang choice kundi maninindigan” concluded Cabaluna.
“In the next days, we will do more, and we will not stop until we get justice,” TAG declared in their website.
Netizens in solidarity with TAG (photos from Buhay Media’s Facebook page)
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DISCLAIMER: Buhay Media is maintained by the Talents Association of GMA Network (TAG), but the stories published here do not necessarily reflect the views and experiences of all TAG members or the media industry as a whole.