Unified Statement for Labor Day 2015:
HIGH TIME FOR MEDIA WORKERS TO FIGHT BACK
We, media workers in the Philippines, mark Labor Day with heightened determination to defend our rights and welfare against the intensifying assaults on jobs, wages and benefits, and freedom of the press.
Less than a week ago, giant television network GMA 7 callously and unceremoniously laid off hundreds of employees and talents of its regional stations including in Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro and Dagupan. More are expected to lose their jobs in the network-wide retrenchments.
This is in spite of the fact that the network has reported yearly net profits of at least a billion pesos in the last three years. For the sake of bigger profits, it sacrificed the future of the families of its laid-off staff.
This sorry incident goes down in history as one of the most sweeping retrenchments in a news organization in the country in recent years. Lest we forget, job security in the media industry has not fared any better in the last five years. In 2010, over 130 ABS-CBN Internal Job Market (IJM) employees were arbitrarily terminated by the network, many of whom have been serving the company from five to more than 10 years. And only last year, GMA indiscriminately decided not to renew the contracts of 52 news and public affairs talents, creating a climate of fear among contractual employees, and pushing 120 members of the Talents Association of GMA (TAG) to file a regularization case and an illegal dismissal case for the 52.
The problem of non-regularization of workers in the media industry mirrors the miserable plight of millions of Filipino workers who are victims of widespread contractualization scheme that helps to keep the owners’ profits up and labor costs down.
The numerous cases of massive layoffs over the last few years create a chilling effect on the media industry, especially on smaller networks or stations and newspapers.
The message sent by the GMA’s massive cutback of manpower in its regional stations is quite clear. No one, not even regular employees of giant and profitable networks, is safe from being laid off in an increasingly profit-driven industry. Media workers do not belong to a privilege class. No matter how much effort and passion we put into our work, it has and will always be easy for media owners to dispense with our services for the sake of heftier pockets for everyone but themselves.
Job retrenchments are only among the worsening acts that trample upon on our rights and welfare.
While news organizations are cutting the number of their staff, the remaining employees are required to produce more to minimize cost while maintaining or increasing work output.
Sadly, this thrust for news organizations to integrate their operations in multi-media platforms have resulted to more work for almost or the same pay for reporters, crew and production staff.
And while these are being implemented, the killing of media workers in the country remains unabated with two journalists killed this year, increasing the number of victims to 166 since 1986.
The continued killings and attacks on media workers and the assaults on our rights and welfare in the workplace are blows against press freedom and the dignity of journalism.
It is high time for ALL media workers, including journalists, to unite and demand fair and just labor practices from media institutions.
The number of unions and organized media workers in the country remain minimal, allowing managements to easily impose unjust policies and decisions on their employees.
Individually, we have always known that our collective work is important and valuable, and that being part of the Fourth Estate is a privilege. But now more than ever, we must organize ourselves and find strength in our unity to defend our jobs, wages and welfare.
It is time to fight back.
National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)
Philippine Daily Inquirer Employees’ Union
Philippine Daily Inquirer Correspondents’ Guild
ABC Employees’ Union
Talents Association of GMA
ABS-CBN-Internal Job Market