GMA Network workers win regularization case at Court of Appeals
'After review of the records, we reach the conclusion that the private respondents are regular employees of petitioner GMA,' says the CA’s Special 14th Division

CANDLE-LIGHTING. Candles are lit and prayers offered to raise awareness on widespread contractualization in the country. Photo by Faye Sales

MANILA, Philippines – Media workers of broadcast giant GMA Network won their regularization case at the Court of Appeals (CA).

In a decision promulgated on February 20, the CA’s Special 14th Division junked the petition of GMA and its CEO Felipe L. Gozon to nullify earlier decisions of the labor commission that declared the workers as regular employees.

“After review of the records, we reach the conclusion that the private respondents are regular employees of petitioner GMA,” said the CA in the 19-page decision written by Associate Justice Zenaida Galapate Laguilles with concurrences from associate justices Mario Lopez and Gabriel Robeniol.

The appellate court declared 101 media workers of GMA Network as regular employees. The network called the workers “talents” whose contracts were continually renewed over a course of period, some even as long as 10 years.

In 2015 and 2016, the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) declared and affirmed that those workers were regular employees.

GMA and Gozon elevated it to the CA, but lost.

“The successive renewals of private respondents’ contract indicated the necessity and desirability of their work in the usual course of petitioner GMA and this has been affirmed by jurisprudence,” said the CA.

If GMA intends to, it could elevate the case to the Supreme Court.

The CA ruled that an employee-employer relationship existed between the network and the workers, whose positions ranged from writers, researchers, and producers.

GMA used the case of Jay Sonza vs ABS-CBN in arguing its position. Sonza was a talent personality of ABS-CBN who lost his labor case against ABS-CBN at the High Court in 2004.

The CA said Sonza and the GMA workers are different.

“The [Sonza] case involved a well-known television and radio personality who was considered a talent and amply compensated as such. While possessed of skills for which they were modestly recompensed by petitioner GMA, private respondents lay no claim to fame or unique talents for which talents like actors and personalities are hired and generally compensated in the broadcast industry,” said the CA.

The workers have organized themselves to be the Talents Association of GMA or TAG, some of which were fired by the network when the case started.

In 2017, the NLRC ruled that the fired workers were illegally dismissed. GMA has reinstated them according to the order of the labor commission. –