‘Prayer campaign’ to raise awareness on contractual labor

Buena Bernal
‘Prayer campaign’ to raise awareness on contractual labor
The prayer campaign follows recently aired grievances by members of the Talents Association of GMA about being deprived of their income for one full pay cycle

MANILA, Philippines – A prayer campaign was launched in an effort to raise awareness about widespread “contractualization” in the country. This was led by media workers considered independent contractors instead of regular employees by a major television network.

Mass and a candle-lighting were held the night of Wednesday, June 3, some days after members of the Talents Association of GMA (TAG) complained of being deprived of their income from network giant GMA-7 for one full pay cycle.

TAG members sued GMA-7 before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) in May 2014, after the media corporation refused to grant them regular status.

All 112 TAG members have toiled in the company for more than 6 months and, in some cases, for more than a decade.

Officers and the more senior members of TAG hold key positions in top-rated and award-winning public affairs shows of GMA-7.

“Talent” is a term that has been used in television networks for years. This term encompasses cameramen, researchers, segment producers, associate producers, executive producers, and the like.

The talents are deprived of security of tenure, among other benefits accorded regular employees. All but two – the program administrator and the program manager – runners behind a GMA-7 show are regular employees.

The network has denied any employer-employee between it and its talents, saying it does not control how the talents produce their work. TAG members deny this.

Withheld salaries?

On May 26, TAG complained anew of GMA-7’s alleged “harassment” by way of tying the release of their salaries to the issuance of acknowledgement receipts.

Believing issuing the receipts would jeopardize their NLRC case, some TAG members refused to provide the network with the documentary proof it can use that they agreed to their independent contractor status.

A regular employee would not need to issue such a receipt, as the network would directly pay their income taxes for them.

In a statement, TAG said its members had asked the network that any receipts they would issue to GMA-7 should not be used against them in their case, to which management initially agreed to.

GMA-7 allegedly backtracked from its commitment, angering the protesting talents.

To date, some members including GMA-7 investigative show Imbestigador’s associate producer Mike Manalaysay have yet to receive their salaries.

Rappler asked GMA-7 for a comment. The network replied that they would issue a statement on the matter soon.

The 'prayer campaign' was launched in an effort to raise awareness about widespread 'contractualization' in the country.

Widespread contractualization

TAG’s campaign against contractual labor in media has slowly gained momentum in social media, with inside stories on the job being shared online by talents from across networks.

The talent system is practiced in other networks as well, but GMA-7’s suit before the NLRC is the latest known case with dozens of talents involved.

TAG members have toured campuses in Luzon as part of the campaign to raise awareness about what they call an “unfair labor treatment” of media workers, who are in the frontline of exposing abuses in various sectors.

Select lawmakers, the country’s largest network of college editors, as well as faculty members, former and present officers of the country’s premier state university have backed TAG in their plight.

“We believe that even though we are a small group, we can be a formidable force that can mobilize every contractual worker in the country to stand up for labor justice,” said TAG in a statement Wednesday.

Contractualization and other hiring arrangements that deprive workers of regular employee status is an issue long hounding the Philippine labor force. (READ: House panel tackles job security bills)

A recent industrial tragedy which claimed at least 72 lives specifically caught the public’s attention. Official findings state that the casualties included illegally subcontracted factory workers who were underpaid and deprived of law-mandated benefits. (READ: Deaths in PH factory show need for decent jobs) – Rappler.com

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