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MANILA, Philippines – Fifty-two GMA-7 “talents” fighting for their regularization as long-time employees face a scathing welcome in 2015, as they stand to lose their jobs by the first day of the coming year.
The 52 comprise almost half of the Talents Association of GMA (TAG) who refused to accept a revised contract tying their jobs to the existence of shows in what was seen as a sign-or-get-fired offer by the network. (READ: GMA-7’s talents: We’re thinking of future journalists)
The network considers talents as independent contractors despite their years of work. Their status deprives them of security of tenure, among other benefits accorded regular employees.
They are the show runners behind GMA-7’s highly-rated public affairs programs, where only the program administrator and program manager are regular employees.
Their labor suit before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) seeks to change this system, but GMA-7 denounced any employer-employee relationship between it and its talents. (READ: GMA-7 talents risk losing jobs over regularization plight)
By 2015, the number of jobless TAG members would be down to 52, after what TAG President Christian Cabaluna regarded as GMA-7’s “divide-and-conquer” tactic.
GMA-7 is only keeping the more senior talents in what was seen as a “divide-and-conquer” tactic against the protesting talents
The network allowed over half of the protesting talents to continue their original contracts beyond 2014.
Only the more senior talents were offered to stay on, still under the same fixed term employment. The move was made in early December, just as they were preparing for the same fate as the rest of the TAG members.
Prior to the offer, there were different speculations on how GMA-7 will be able to replace the more senior talents – from executive producers to segment producers who have gained considerable experience but decided to leave en masse in protest of their contract-based status.
Among those senior producers, I Juander executive producer Stephen Patricio said the continuation of their original talent agreements which go beyond 2014 – some until March 2019 – do not deter them from further pursuing the controversial labor suit filed in May.
New batch of cases
TAG members have dwindled in number since May, after some of them chose to accept the project-based contract to keep their only source of income.
As of December, 3 have backed out from the NLRC case, two of whom were offered regular employee positions.
A second batch composed of 11 other network talents, however, filed their case against GMA-7 on December 10. This increases the number of case filers calling for talents’ regularization across the board to around 130.
Sought for comment, GMA-7 only referred to an earlier statement it had made. (READ: GMA-7: Talents vital to network success)
Patricio said he respects the decision of former TAG members who had to abandon the group and give in to the present talent system to secure a monthly income.
Imbestigador associate producer Mike Manalaysay said most of these talents are those who live from pay day to pay day, and are bread winners of their families.
It took years of keeping mum and accepting each renewed talent contract just to stay in an industry they cherished
Still, Manalaysay said his decision to challenge the present talent system along with all of Imbestigador‘s talents is long overdue.
“We have long thought about this,” he said in Filipino, adding that it took years of keeping mum and accepting each renewed talent contract just to stay in an industry they cherished. (READ: GMA-7’s talents: We’re thinking of future journalists)
Patricio, who has been with the network for almost a decade, said that when he writes scripts for the network, he would always think and work hardest on how to end an episode.
“It takes me two hours to think of the end voice over. Because that’s the lasting memory you leave to your viewers,” he said in Filipino.
“My only wish in the years that I have spent writing for the network is for the company to provide us an ending that is in our interest. We’ll write this end voice over together,” he said, stressing their plea to give network talents what they believe is due them. – Rappler.com