MANILA, Philippines – Mike Manalaysay, associate producer of GMA-7 investigative show Imbestigador, has two kids he often thinks about when he reminds himself why he is soon ending 12 years of work with the network giant.
“Yung mga anak namin tendency gayahin kami eh. Paano kung maging journalist din sila?” Manalaysay asked, visibly concerned. (The tendency of our kids is to follow the paths we tread. What if they become a journalist like us?)
“Ang daratnan nilang sistema yung talent system pa rin na walang benepisyo, walang SSS, walang security of tenure, walang overtime, lahat yun,” he quickly added. (The system that awaits them is still the talent system that leaves network talents without benefits, SSS, security of tenure, overtime pay, all of that.)
GMA-7 said there is no employer-employee relationship between the network and its talents
So when GMA-7 gave him and his fellow long-time talents an initial ultimatum – sign a year-long, project-based contract or leave GMA-7 by the end of 2014 – he said all of Imbestigador‘s talents chose to risk their jobs to fight for what they believe is right. (READ: GMA-7 talents risk losing jobs over regularization plight)
Manalaysay is part of the Talents Association of GMA (TAG), which filed a suit against GMA-7 before the labor arbiter last May for what it regards as “unfair labor practice.”
Talents like them who are show runners behind GMA-7’s award-winning public affairs programs are considered independent contractors by the network despite their years – and in some cases even decades – of service. This deprives them of security of tenure, among other benefits accorded regular employees.
In its position paper submitted to the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), GMA-7 said it has no control over either its talents’ output or the means and methods they use to accomplish their work.
GMA-7 “representatives merely monitor the quality of work to ensure compliance with the prescribed standards,” it said.
The talents “performed their work using their own expertise, techniques, ingenuity, procedures, and systems of work independently and without interference from respondent GMA and subject only to coordination on the kind and nature of work and the results to be attained,” the paper read.
GMA-7 said there is no employer-employee relationship between the network and its talents. (READ: GMA-7: Talents ‘vital’ to network success)
But Reel Time executive producer Ely del Rosario said they are basically a ready set of people the network can tap for any other coverage plans their contracts do not cover.
Manalaysay said these include election coverages, special reports, and breaking news.
Del Rosario added that their inability to independently contract with other networks given the exclusivity clause in their talent agreements with GMA-7 also shows the network’s control over them.
Network nurtured our outlook
While the network said the talent agreements which stipulate fixed-term employment were signed by its talents willingly and without coercion, Manalaysay believes most aspiring journalists are left with no choice.
Ironically, Manalaysay said, their position against the network was nurtured by the public service-oriented culture in GMA-7
“Eh anong gagawin ko? Wala naman akong choice. Kung hindi ko tinanggap yung talent agreement na yun… Paano yung gusto mong gawin?” he elaborated on the dilemma faced by someone who wants to continue telling stories but is offered only a renewed talent agreement every year or so.
(What will I do? I don’t have a choice. If I don’t accept that talent agreement… What will become of what I want to do?)
“Ako personally, nilunok ko yun. Alam kong mali yun. Pero nilunok ko yun dahil sa pagmamahal ko sa propesyon ko bilang isang mamamahayag,” he said. (I personally accepted that [the talent agreement]. I knew it was wrong. But I accepted that because of my love for my profession as a journalist.)
Ironically, Manalaysay said, their position against the network was nurtured by the public service-oriented culture of GMA-7.
“Di ba yun naman yung role ng mga journalist sa society? Tagapag-kwento tayo ng storya, di ba? Ganoon natin binabago yung mga maling sistema eh, maling kalakaran. Ganoon natin minumulat yung mga tao,” he said.
(Isn’t that the role of journalists in society? We are storytellers, right? That is how we change the system, the wrong trade. That is how we open people’s minds.)
“And that is exactly what we are doing now. We are telling our story. Ito yung buhay namin. Ito yung buhay media…ang totoong kwento sa likod ng camera.” (And that is exactly what we are doing now. We are telling our story. This is our life. This is media life…the real story behind the camera.)
Manalaysay and over 100 others have numbered days with GMA-7. – Rappler.com
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