Radio workers union in RMN Davao wins case for latest strike

RMN Davao employees' strike  vindicated
Gina Hitgano, president of RMN Davao Employees Union, praises the vindication of media workers’ right to unionize and hold a strike (Photo courtesy of KMU-SMR / bulatlat.com)

The decision of the National Labor Relations Commission is a vindication of the workers’ right to strike and an initial step in undermining the talent system being implemented by Radio Mindanao Network (RMN) management.

By MARYA SALAMAT
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – The union of Radio Mindanao Network (RMN) Davao welcomed the decision of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) dismissing the illegal strike case filed against it by RMN management on November 4, 2014. At the time, the radio workers’ union was on strike; they lifted it on November 13, ending a 41-day strike after a settlement was reached with the management. All employees were then told to go back to work even as the illegal strike case filed by management remained pending against the union.

More than six months later, the NLRC declared that the strike was legal and that “1) the mandatory procedural requisites of a legal strike pursuant to Article 263, Labor Code, were complied by the union/respondent; and 2) RMN’s assertion that there was no refusal to bargain on their part stands on hollow ground.” The decision was penned by Labor Arbiter Miriam Libron-Barroso.

RMN is said to be the largest radio network in the Philippines, owned and operated by the Canoy family. Its first major expansion happened during Martial Law years with loans from government banks. Following the ouster of Marcos, it was the first broadcast network whose franchise was approved under the late president Corazon Aquino.

Various reports indicate that RMN workers in different stations are in a struggle to defend their regular status on the job and to form unions.

According to Gina Hitgano, president of RMN Davao Employees Union, the labor department’s decision is a vindication of the workers’ right to strike and an initial step in undermining the talent system being implemented by RMN management.

Their union went on strike last year to put an end to what they call as RMN’s unfair labor practice of grossly violating the provisions of their collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which, they said, RMN did when it hired new talents to replace resigned employees instead of hiring regular employees or regularizing qualified employees.

Elsewhere in other big media outfits in the Philippines, media workers are also struggling to achieve regular status on the job, with its mandatory wages and benefits, amid various management schemes that undermine it, for example the talent system and other contractual employment setups.

Hitgano cited two reasons why the NLRC decision is not just their victory but a victory as well for all media workers.

One, she said, it vindicates their exercise of the right to strike.

Two, she added, the NLRC decision underscores the need for media workers to unionize in order to assert their right to job security and regular employment.

“Media workers are often the first to emphasize the need for rights but are the ones less assertive and therefore, most deprived of them,” Hitgano said.

Recently, the media workers of giant broadcasting companies GMA and ABS-CBN have figured in labor struggles citing their precarious situation as “talents” and not regular employees.

The RMN Davao unionists urged their fellow media workers to unite and form unions.

“If we work individually, we will not succeed. If we unionize, we stand a better chance of claiming our rights as workers and as human beings with dignity.” ()

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