NLRC upholds ruling vs GMA: Talents are regular employees

Camille Elemia
'We find no compelling justification or valid reason to modify, alter, much less reverse, the Decision sought to be reconsidered,' the NLRC special 4th division says

VICTORY FOR NOW. The Talents Association of GMA-7 (TAG) welcomes the new year with a good news, as the National Labor Relations Commission upheld its September 2015 ruling that declared talents as regular employees that are entitled to benefits. File photo by Faye Sales

MANILA, Philippines – Former and current workers of network giant GMA-7 welcomed the new year with a good news, as the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) upheld its earlier ruling declaring media talents as regular employees. 

In a 4-page decision promulgated on Tuesday, January 5, NLRC special 4th division junked the appeal filed by the TV network.

“Wherefore, the instant Motion for Reconsideration should be, as it is hereby DENIED for lack of merit. The Decision dated September 30 2015 remains undisturbed,” the ruling said. Commissioners Numeriano D. Villena, Pablo C. Espiritu Jr, and Gregorio O. Bilog III signed the decision.

The division also said they have reviewed their earlier ruling favoring the Talents Association of GMA-7 (TAG) and found “no compelling justification or valid reason to modify, alter, much less reverse, the Decision sought to be reconsidered.”

The NLRC earlier ruled that talents are regular employees, who are “entitled to security of tenure and all benefits and rights appurtenant to their status.” (READ: Media workers win regularization case vs GMA-7)

Network talents are the technical and creative runners behind television shows, pitching stories, writing scripts and spiels, producing audiovisual reports, shooting interviews, sourcing contacts and contributors, fact-checking stories, and finding case studies for stories, among others.

“There should have been no force, duress or improper pressure brought to bear upon the employee; neither should there be any other circumstance that vitiates the employee’s consent,” the September decision said.

“Understandably, complainants could not object to terms of their contracts because initially, they needed a job to support themselves and/or their families, and subsequently, they did not want to lose their jobs,” it added.

Long way to go

Members of TAG, for their part, welcome the “victory.” While the battle does not end here, the group said they would fight it out until the end.

The NLRC is expected to issue an entry of judgment within 15-30 days to indicate that the decision is final and executory, which will compel GMA Network to implement its ruling. 

GMA Network, however, can file a petition before the Court of Appeals, after which they may take it to the Supreme Court, the final arbiter.

“GMA made it clear from the beginning that they will take this battle to the end. We’ll also do the same, we will persist to show everyone we are doing the right thing, that there is a chance to have fair labor treatment in this industry we love, to show everyone who said we’ll lose that they’re wrong,” TAG President Christian Cabaluna said.

Cabaluna, along with 10 other senior staff, was terminated in July 2015 but no clear reason was supposedly given. They said they filed separate illegal dismissal cases against the Network.

“This resolution plays an important role in our illegal dismissal case. As regular employees, we have rights to due process and we shouldn’t have been terminated as easily as we have,” Cabaluna said. – Rappler.com