The ABS-CBN IJM Workers Union asks President Aquino to stop the illegal dismissals, contractualization and union-busting at his “favorite” media network.
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – Thirty-seven more workers at the country’s largest media network, ABS-CBN, have been dismissed, bringing to 92 the number of employees fired from the company’s “Internal Job Market,” the ABS-CBN IJM Workers Union said.
The firings, which occurred nine months after the workers were first officially disowned as employees by the Lopez-owned ABS-CBN, occurred in the same week that the network announced a staggering 179-percent increase in earnings for the first half of 2010.
In a report by Business Mirror, ABS-CBN said last Tuesday that its net income in the first six months hit a record P2.27 billion, higher than the P813 million it earned in the same period last year and also higher than its full-year net income of P1.7 billion in 2009.
The 37 workers of the broadcasting company’s news and current affairs department were reportedly invited into “private talks” by human resources managers of ABS-CBN last Friday the 13th, only to be told they had lost their jobs, said the labor center KMU (May First Movement) in a statement.
The mass termination swells the number of employees set to file cases of illegal dismissal tomorrow at the National Labor Relations Commission, while the first batch of terminated employees and fellow unionists will attend the hearing on their illegal dismissal cases.
Last June, Gabby Lopez, the company’s CEO, threatened to fire employees who refuse to waive their demands for regularization as well as those who persisted in forming a union.
The ABS-CBN IJM Workers’ Union, an independent union, was denied certification by the labor department last November, when the labor department took the word of ABS-CBN that the union’s members are not employees of ABS-CBN. The unionists have since appealed the decision, citing their payroll, identification cards and years of service in ABS-CBN as proofs of their employment here. The employees also pointed to the fact that the IJM is an integral part of ABS-CBN.
The union’s appeal, said its vice president Alain Cadag, is still up for review and approval by labor secretary Rosalinda Baldoz. But in the meantime, their union is being busted while their members are compelled to agree to “bogus” or “discriminatory” regularizations that are also packaged with “waivers” such as the unionists turning their back on their union and on their assertion that they are indeed employees of ABS-CBN.
The most recent employment offers refused by the newest batch of terminated employees will have them as short-term contractual employees or employed on per program basis, the KMU said.
Bong Osorio, head of corporate communication of ABS-CBN, had denied last month that they were “dismissing or retrenching employees.” Instead, Osorio described what is happening with ABS-CBN personnel as an “ongoing process” that is “not a mass termination or dismissal.”
Government Intercession Only “Favored” ABS-CBN
With President Benigno Aquino’s promised change still ringing in their ears — the ABS-CBN was perceived to have helped a great deal in broadcasting Aquino’s presidential campaign — the unionists said they had trooped to his residence last June to seek Aquino’s intercession in the “unjust dismissals, contractualization and union-busting at ABS-CBN.”
Their case was reportedly referred to the labor department, who called on the union a few days later. But instead of their complaints being acted upon, the union-busting and mass firing seemed to have worsened with the latest biggest number of terminated employees.
“Despite the talks called upon by the DOLE with the ABS-CBN workers, bigger retrenchments attacked them afterward. Instead of the situation getting better after talks with government officials, things got even worse,” KMU’s Elmer Labog said. He asked if letting ABS-CBN “get away with its anti-worker schemes” is Aquino’s way of thanking the network for “being instrumental in keeping up a good image of President Aquino.”
“We remind the Lopezes that they will never be able to build the biggest media firms today if not for their workers. So the right to regularization and to organize a union are basic rights long due the Kapamilya workers; it is the Lopezes who have no right to deny them that, and much more to terminate them just like that,” Labog said.
He added that President Aquino should intervene not for the Lopezes but to “bring back the dismissed workers, and grant them their due regularization and right to form a union.” (Bulatlat.com)