At around 7:30 pm, Thursday, June 25, Edma Remillano, our head writer on State of the Nation and one of the officers of Talents Association of GMA (TAG), whispered to me while we were writing our scripts: “Nanalo tayo sa NLRC.” (We won in the Nataional Labor Relations Commission)
We were told our Association President was just outside our newsroom with the official papers. So we ran outside, knowing we could not spare more than a minute because we still had jobs to do. I counted it: ten seconds to hug and congratulate our fellow TV network talents, ten seconds to shake their hands and ten seconds to snap a photo of the first three pages of the decision.
And another thirty seconds to compose a short status on our Facebook page: “TAG wins its regularization case before the NLRC. In a resolution signed by Labor Arbiter Julio Gayaman, TAG members were declared by the NLRC Labor Arbiter as regular employees of GMA Network.”
It may just be one of the most important news I’ll break.
We reserved the celebration later that night after airing the newscast. Yes, we celebrated — even though this may just be the first round of a battle that may stretch up to five years. Why? Because any victory starts with the first step. Case in point: when the Sandiganbayan pressed graft charges against Janet Napoles and Senators Bong Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile, the Filipinos celebrated.
This is despite the fact that the case would still have to be tried and heard at the Regional Trial Court and — like any other case — it can reach the Supreme Court. Some political analysts even believed it would take up to ten years before it can be decided.
Nevertheless, many people considered that particular Sandiganbayan case as their triumph; it was proof that the justice system still works. We’re trudging along parallel lines. This NLRC decision means the same thing for the contractual workers who stood their ground for their rights.
Our voices just got louder after a labor arbiter amplified our stance.
There is now a resolution saying we are regular employees; it is also a resolution that says our Talent Agreement, which the Network uses to dispute our claim, is not legally binding. This document also acknowledges Article 280 of the Labor Code that provides us regularization and all benefits and rights that come with it. It sets a precedent. It sends a message to other corporations that they need to respect and obey labor laws.
Just yesterday, June 26, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) declared 397 workers of Tanduay Distillery as regular employees. They have been on strike for almost 2 months and have endured physical assault on top of all other forms of harassment. But lo and behold, there is justice from DOLE.
Together, one by one, we are fighting to abolish contractualization. With every news agency that airs or publishes this story, we are saying that while this is in the interest of the powerful, we will give a voice to the powerless.
The Network can appeal up to the Supreme Court. It will be emotionally, mentally and not to mention, financially draining on our part. But when it reaches that stretch, when all of us have grown older, and poorer, and we are still fighting for our rights and for the rights of others, then that will be our legacy. On the other hand, if the Network throws their weight and spends their fortune in order to deny the rights of people who have worked for them with dignity, compassion and excellence — then that is going to be their legacy.
This is just the first victory. But if you’re someone who believes in fighting for the common good, then you would understand that this victory matters.
[Entry 85, The SubSelfie Blog]
About the Author:
Lian Nami Buan is the Associate Editor of SubSelfie.com. She leads the #SubStory and #TanawMindanao segments of the website. She also produces special reports for State of the Nation with Jessica Soho. She wants to shift focus to human rights, particularly indigenous people, women and migration. Whenever she has money, she travels to collect feelings for writing material. Journalism 2010, UST. Read more of her articles here.