New contract, same ‘exploitative’ terms

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — After 125 talents of the GMA Network Inc. filed a regularization case at the National Labor Relations Commission, the GMA 7 management offered a new contract and other employment options to talents.

Provisions of the Project Employment Contract (PEC) include:
• SSS, PAG-IBIG, PhilHealth, to be jointly paid by talent and the network (50-50 sharing)
• Health card and rice allowance offered to those holding positions as Executive producers and above only
• 13th month pay which works like an additional pay every month but will be treated as tax shield
• The contract lasts for a year, and the networks is under no obligation to renew the project employee once his/her contract expires
• The project is the show. If the show is sacked, the contract will also expire
• 3-month exclusivity period that prohibits talents from transferring or working for other network companies upon the expiration of the PEC
• Existing talents are required to sign a pre-termination document before they can sign the new contract. Years of service is not recognized.

The talents refuse to sign the PEC, which they deem as disadvantageous to them.

Bowe Cabaluna, president of the Talents Association of GMA (TAG) and who has been working for the said company for nine years, said the PEC is no better than their present situation. “Still, we do not have security of tenure and our employment depends on the program,” Cabaluna told Bulatlat.com

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Cabaluna lamented that treating the 13th month pay as tax shield is the same as not getting it at all. The 13th month pay, although mandatory under Labor Code, has been denied to the GMA talents for years.

Another talent, Jay Francisco, said he could not sign the PEC given the pending case at the NLRC. He fears the GMA management might use the PEC to justify the dismissal of the regularization case.

In an interview, labor lawyer Remigio Saladero Jr. said the PEC is not favorable to the workers. He said the labor arbiter might decide that by signing the PEC, the workers have voluntarily opted to become project employees. The show is the project and once it ends, the project also ends. “So, it also means goodbye to your work,” he said.

The GMA has also offered regular positions for talents. These jobs were not qualified as regular positions prior to the filing of the case. Some of these include positions for Supervising Producer, Junior Supervising Producers, News Writers-Producers, News Video Edit Specialists, News Moving Image Artists, News Motion Graphics Specialists, News Video Ingest Specialists and News Graphics Operations Specialists.

The TAG believes that this does not satisfy their demand for regularization, benefits and security of tenure.

According to the GMA management, the positions are to be applied for by the talents, there would be no consideration for years of service rendered and regular application procedure applies ( submitting requirements, taking the exam, and becoming a probationary employees for half a year with additional work hours.)

Saladero said disregarding the years of service and subjecting the employees to probationary period are not at all fair.

If talents would apply to become regular employees, Saladero said, there should not be any provision stating that the employee is abandoning the case for regularization. ()

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