MANILA, Philippines – Network giant GMA-7 maintains it is not flouting labor laws in denying regular employee status to its talents and considering them instead as independent contractors.
GMA-7 Vice President for Legal Affairs Lynn P. Delfin on Friday, February 13, made the statement in response to the resolution filed by 3 congressmen who called for a House probe into the corporation’s treatment of its talents.
“GMA Network respects the filing of the resolution by the House Members but maintains the position that its practice of engaging talents does not constitute any labor violation,” said Delfin.
Having sued the network in 2014, members of the Talents Association of GMA (TAG) found allies in Quezon City 6th District Representative Christopher “Kit” Belmonte, and Gabriela party-list Representatives Emmi De Jesus and Luz Ilagan.
The 3 filed House Resolution 1893, calling for an investigation in aid of legislation into the alleged labor violations committed by GMA-7. (READ: Congress asked: Probe GMA-7 talent system)
Delfin said GMA-7 is ready to defend its stance before Congress.
“Should the House proceed with its inquiry into the engagement of talents in the broadcast industry and require the participation of GMA, GMA will consider it an opportunity to clarify its position and to present proper context to such practice for the better understanding of our legislators,” she explained.
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Talents are technical and creative runners behind television programs including executive producers, associate producers, segment producers, researchers, and cameraman, among others.
In GMA-7, the program administrator and program manager are typically the only regular employees among those who run a public affairs show.
GMA-7 considers its so-called talents as independent contractors and not regular employees, despite their years of exclusive work with the network and their availability as a ready set of people the network can tap for breaking news, special reports, and election coverage.
The current set-up deprives them of security of tenure, a system that prevails in most television networks.
Protesting groups allege it is meant for the big-time media corporations to maximize profit at the expense of its laborers, while networks defend it as regular industry practice.
In documents submitted to the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), GMA-7 had denied any employer-employee relationship with its talents.
Talent agreements – which involve a fixed-term employment – were signed “knowingly, freely, willingly, and voluntarily” by the network talents, it said.
GMA-7 argued that talents are likewise able to bid out their service to negotiate their fees with the network, indicating they are not regular employees.
Their fees are likewise twice to thrice higher than a regular employee with their position, the network said.
TAG’s anti-contractualization mission in the media industry is slowly gaining momentum, with the movement capitalizing on social media to rally their cause.
University tours across Metro Manila are also being conducted.
Aside from support from select lawmakers, a nationwide network of college-level editors as well as respected officials and faculty-members of the country’s premier state university have rallied behind TAG’s efforts to reform, if not abolish, the talent system in the media industry. – Rappler.com
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