GMA 7 fires 11 talents despite regularization orders

Talents of GMA-7 and their families light candles against contractual labor, June 3 at the Sacred Heart Parish. (Photo by Manila Today)
Talents of GMA-7 and their families light candles against contractual labor, June 3 at the Sacred Heart Parish. (Photo by Manila Today)

“Did the decision go through the proper process? Why were we targeted? Do you think your decision to terminate us is right and just despite the fact that we were talents before because of a system that was adjudged as wrong?”

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Just a week after the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) declared GMA 7 talents as regular employees, the giant network dismissed 11 complainants to the case.

On June 30, eleven members of Talents Association of GMA (TAG), including its president Christian Cabaluna were terminated.

Over a hundred members of TAG filed the regularization case against GMA 7 and in a resolution dated June 22, labor arbiter Julio Gayaman favored TAG and ordered GMA 7 to treat TAG members as regular employees. Gamayan said the decision, even pending appeal, is immediately executory.

“The arrogance of the network and blatant disrespect of the arbiter’s decision shows what kind of employer they are,” Cabaluna told Bulatlat.com in a text message.

Those terminated had been working for GMA 7’s programs Imbestigador and Reporter’s Notebook. Cabaluna himself had been with the network for nine years. His colleague, Imbestigador’s associate producer, Mike Manalaysay, had been with GMA 7 for more than 12 years. Two others, Imbestigador’s Mariet Cabral and Reporter’s Notebook Michael del Rosario, both served GMA for ten years. The rest had been with GMA for two years up to eight years.

Despite years of service, all of them worked for the network without the benefits of regular employees, not even those mandated by law such as the 13th month pay. They will leave GMA Network without separation pay and other benefits despite their years of service and loyalty to the network.

Cabaluna said they were informed of the decision yesterday, July 9. Neil Gumban, associate vice president for Public Affairs; Johnson Tam, program manager of Imbestigador; and Gale Canoneo, executive producer of Imbestigador, told them they were being terminated.

Cabaluna said he asked the GMA officials the following questions:

“Did the decision go through the proper process? Why were we targeted? Do you think your decision to terminate us is right and just despite the fact that we were talents before because of a system that was adjudged as wrong?”

“But they could not answer our questions,” Cabaluna told Bulatlat.com.

Five of those terminated have ongoing contracts while the contracts of the others have not been renewed. The network terminated the TAG members allegedly for “breach of contract” for joining the protest action on June 5.

On that day, TAG members held a protest outside the GMA 7 compound and did not report for duty for two weeks. The protest was in reaction to the management’s withholding of their salaries pending issuance of acknowledgment receipts (AR). TAG members refused to issue AR, maintaining they are regular employees and their salaries should be released without any condition.

“It is saddening and it angers us but the fight continues,” Cabaluna said.

Cabaluna said they will take both legal and extralegal actions in response to the recent termination of TAG members.

“We will say this once again: we formed TAG with everybody’s interest in mind. We formed TAG with the dream of making all TV Network Talents regular employees, whether they’re from GMA or not. The legal papers may contain only our names, but this is a battle we’re fighting for everybody. The termination of 11 of our members will in no way stop us from seeing this battle through,” the group said.

TAG calls on their colleagues in GMA, the entire media industry and the public to “stand firm against this blatant disregard for labor laws and workers’ rights.” ()

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