Whenever justice is served unfairly, small Voices are often unheard and are always neglected by big fishes. However, when combined collectively, these voices can create a huge impact that can destroy small ponds. No voice is left unheard for people who joined forces for one, common goal. This is what happened to the members of Talent Association of GMA or TAG did on June 3. Candles were lit and prayers were lifted at the Sacred Heart Parish in Quezon City and dubbed the campaign as “Isang Kandila at Dasal Para sa Kontraktwal.” According to Christian Cabaluna, TAG President, this initiative is to raise awareness regarding labor injustice throughout the country.
The campaign was created to address the dismissal of GMA-7’s talents in just a short notice since last year. The group is also finding justice for a denied security of tenure and other benefits included for GMA employees. Another issue raised was the issuance of Acknowledgement Receipt (AR) as what GMA-7’s considered as proof of fees as opposed to salary. For TAG, it is a form of harassment.
What are ‘talents’?
In GMA-7 network, talents are referred to a people with skills and are professionals working on a per show basis. These are the executive producers, associate producers, segment producers, writers, researchers, editing supervisors, production coordinators, transcribers, and crew members.
“We are not service providers. In fact, it is specified in our contract that our salaries should be deposited in the bank,” said Cabaluna.
What the network called them is not an issue at all. But when GMA-7 made a new policy for salary disbursement, that is when the group reacted. Instead of putting their pay in the bank, they were asked to sign a receipt as a form of acknowledgement for accepting the cheque as their ‘fees’ or ‘payment’.
Cabaluna also added, “Most of us are out working in the field, and some live far away. It would be inconvenient for us if we would have to travel to Quezon City, wait in line for our cheques to be processed by the bank just to claim our salaries.”
Other forms of harassment
More issues surfaced. It included the Christmas bonuses last year that TAG were not given. Other members are also prohibited from engaging duties from other programs within the network. They were even called ‘case-filers’.
“The HR division of GMA contacts their counterparts on other networks and that they tell them that there are legal implications if they hire a TAG member,”, Cabaluna revealed.
Their contract even stated that if they leave GMA-7, they could not work in another network within a six-month period.
On May 25, 2014, TAG already filed a legal case against GMA-7 at the National Labor Relations Commission for ‘Unfair Labor Practice’. It has been a year and their fight regarding pending regularization is not amended yet.
“I think they are just waiting for us to resign. They are testing our endurance. Hundreds more will be retrenched from the main office. Aside from those who were laid-off from the regional networks. Keeping contractual employees is favorable for GMA-7 as they would have to pay less benefits.
“We don’t have any choice but to stand for what is due to us. In the next days, we will do more, and we will not stop until we get justice.”