MANILA, Philippines – GMA-7, one of the biggest media conglomerates in the country, denies allegations of labor law violations in its talent system and says that the corporation is ready to defend itself should the House of Representatives probe on the matter.
The Talents Association of GMA (TAG), together with Quezon City 6th District Representative Kit Belmonte and Gabriela party-list Representatives Emmi de Jesus and Luz Ilaga, has already filed House Resolution 1893 last year, urging the House to investigate into the network’s practice of withholding regularization on its talents, retaining them as independent contractors instead.
“Kung kameng mga journalist, pinagtatanggol namin ‘yung mga karapatan ng ibang tao, ‘di mas dapat din naming ipagtanggol ‘yung mga karapatan namin. (If we, as journalists, fight for the rights of other people, all the more should we fight for our rights),” says TAG member Mike Manalaysay, who was the former Imbestigador associate producer and was a contractual worker in GMA-7 for twelve years.
“Sobrang dedicated and passionate kami sa ginagawa namin. Pero ‘yung GMA mukhang hindi ‘yon pinapahalagahan. (We are very much dedicated and passionate in what we do but GMA does not seem to give any importance on it),” adds Chloe Garcera-Ben, who was a contractual worker in the network for almost 13 years.
GMA-7 responds to alleged law violations, claiming that they did not observe any form of unfair labor practice.
“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,” says GMA-7 Vice President for Legal Affairs Lynn Delfin.
“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,” adds Delfin.
Aside from performers such as actors, singers and dancers, also considered as talents are technical and creative runners behind news, public affairs and entertainment programs including executive producers, associate producers, segment producers, production coordinators, writers, transcribers, researchers, edit supervisors and crew members.
Despite many years of exclusive service to GMA-7, a lot of these so-called talents remain as contractors and only a few are made regular employees, depriving many of employee benefits and security tenure.
GMA-7, however, says that their talents ‘knowingly, freely, willingly and voluntarily’ sign fixed-term contracts. Talents are also able to negotiate their service fees and sometimes even receive twice or thrice the income of regular employees.
With report from Cyra Moraleda