GMA-7 talents on regularization plight: Law is on our side

Buena Bernal
GMA-7 talents on regularization plight: Law is on our side
The protesting workers say the Labor Code trumps the talent agreements, which has been used by the network to justify not giving them permanent employment status

MANILA, Philippines – A 4-fold test used to determine employer-employee relationship shows GMA-7 talents are regular network employees, claimed the Talents Association of GMA (GMA). 

In a statement Monday, February 16, TAG assailed the recent claim of a GMA-7 executive that the denial of regular employee status to TAG members is lawful.

“[T]he network’s contractual scheme that it has been practicing for decades is a violation of the Labor Code,” TAG alleged, responding to GMA Network Vice President for Legal Affairs Lyn Delfin.

The network giant had denied that it had any employer-employee relationship with its talents, saying the latter were offered project-based contracts.

Citing a 4-fold test recognized in Philippine jurisprudence, TAG claims GMA-7 has the power to select and engage them, the power to dismiss them, the power to pay their wages by whatever means, and the power to control the conduct of their work.

TAG said the Labor Code trumps the talent agreements, which had been used by the network to justify the fixed-term employment of its talents.

In papers submitted to the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), the network had argued that these agreements, which categorized talents as project-based, independent contractors, were signed “knowingly, freely, willingly, and voluntarily.” 

Talents are technical and creative runners behind television programs. They include executive producers, associate producers, segment producers, researchers, among others.

Their status as independent contractors despite their more than 6 months of exclusive work with a network deprives them of security of tenure or protection from termination without just cause.

In 2014, members of TAG filed in two batches a regularization suit against GMA-7 before the NLRC.

4-way test

“What GMA Network fails to note is that despite the existence of this Agreement signed by the talents, there is a provision on the Labor Code that negates the Talent Agreement contract,” TAG said.

TAG cited Article 280 of the Labor Code, which outlines the criteria for regular and casual employment.

According to the law, a regular employee’s work is “usually necessary or desirable in the usual business or trade of the employer.”

“That any employee who has rendered at least one year of service, whether such service is continuous or broken, shall be considered a regular employee with respect to the activity in which he is employed and his employment shall continue while such activity exists,” the law reads.

“[I]f the criteria provided for in the Labor Code are met, whatever is written in any document between parties – the Talent Agreement in this case — has no more hold,” TAG argued.

TAG’s anti-contractual mission in the media industry has slowly gained foothold in social media with hashtags #BuhayMedia (Life in Media) and #LabanMedia (Media Fight). 

Present and former talents of different media agencies have shared their life stories online, calling for an end to a system that deprives media practitioners like them law-mandated benefits.

The talent system is practiced by most big-time television networks, largely seen as a profit-maximization scheme by protesting talents.

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. –

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