GMA 7 talents are regular employees, appellate court rules

Bulatlat file photo | GMA 7 talents stage a protest action in front of GMA Network Inc. compound, June 5, 2015. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea / Bulatlat.com)

“Truly, without their work, petitioner GMA would have nothing to air, hence the private respondents’ services in the former’s television program were unquestionably necessary and essential.”

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — The Court of Appeals upheld the decisions of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) declaring more than a hundred talents of broadcasting firm GMA 7 as regular employees.

In a 19-page decision dated Feb. 20, the CA’s Special 14th Division junked the petition for certiorari filed by GMA 7 management, saying it lacks merit.

Penned by Associate Justice Zenaida Galapate-Laguilles, the appellate court ruled that the talents are regular employees and they are part of production crew who, were undoubtedly performing functions necessary and essential to petitioner GMA’s business of broadcasting television.

“Truly, without their work, petitioner GMA would have nothing to air, hence the private respondents’ services in the former’s television program were unquestionably necessary and essential,” the decision read.

The CA further said that even if the talents’ employment contracts were for a fixed term, these contracts have been renewed from one, three, or six months, or for one or five years. The successive renewals of these contracts, said the CA, indicated the necessity and desirability of their (talents’) work in the usual course of GMA.

The appellate court further asserted that the four -fold test to determine the existence of an employer-employee relationship was duly established in the said case. These are: the selection and engagement of the employee; the payment of wages; the power of dismissal; and the power to control the employee’s conduct.

READ: Talent? | How can you be considered a regular employee

The Talents Association of GMA (TAG) welcomed the decision.

Shao Masula, TAG vice president, told Bulatlat, “Waiting for Court of Appeals decision was sort of a torture — because the five years of blood, sweat, and tears that was shed for this fight might all go to waste.”

Masula, who has been with GMA for the past 15 years, recalled being mocked by colleagues for staging a street protest in front of GMA premises in June 2015. She said that some even called them ingrates for “biting the hands that feed us.”

READ: GMA 7 talents launch work stoppage, protest vs. contractual labor

Some of the TAG members were dismissed for participating in the rally.

“TAG members would ironically feel being ridiculed for standing for truth and for fighting for what is right,” Masula said.

In a statement, TAG said the purpose of their case was always clear — “to shine the light on a prevalent issue that affects millions of Filipinos and to increase the pressure on companies and the government, to stop this unjust, inhumane and illegal labor treatment.”

“This win in the CA is an affirmation for our cause,” Masula said.

While TAG recognizes that GMA 7 can still appeal to the Supreme Court, Masula is hopeful more than ever that the law is on the side of Filipino workers.

“They have the vast resources to fight us out in court, but we believe that what we lack in money and connections, we make up for by our best asset — the truth,” TAG said in a statement.

In a statement, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) congratulated TAG in its victory. “Your unity and determination is an inspiration to us and all media workers seeking to improve their working conditions and economic welfare,” NUJP said.

The group also called on the owners and managers of GMA Network to immediately implement the CA decision. It also urged all other media companies to end the onerous policy of contractualization. ()

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