‘Attacking at its most vulnerable’
Talents Association of GMA (TAG) and Tanggulan Ugnayang Daluyang Lakas ng Anakpawis sa Tanduay Distillers Inc. (TUDLA) workers with other labor groups brought their plight of unserved justice and contractualization on the streets of Manila to Mendiola.
“Our call is simple. [That the GMA Network] respect the decision of NLRC (National Labor Relations Commission), bring back the terminated employees and make the talents who filed cases regular employees,” TAG President Christian Cabaluna said.
Despite NLRC’s June 22-decision favoring TAG in ordering GMA 7 to regularize its talents, the network terminated 11 more employees, all from GMA’s award-winning shows Imbestigador and Reporter’s Notebook, on June 30 which adds to the 40 dismissed by the company in 2014.
Cabaluna is included in the 11 fired employees who were mostly TAG leaders. According to him, the GMA pursued the course of action “to show an example to other employees what will happen to them if they joined TAG—which is to lose their jobs. In fact, when the NLRC decision came, there was a spark in the talents’ moral.”
“We’re attacking GMA at its most vulnerable—the network’s public image. We believe it is really damaging for the network’s image. We don’t want to do this because we love the network but hate the system,” Cabaluna added.
As a counteraction, TAG will file illegal dismissal cases against GMA. They are hoping to get resolutions and to gain back their jobs before 2015 ends.
Aside from TAG, TUDLA also won their case in the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in South Luzon to regularize 103 out of 150 TUDLA members. However, according to TUDLA President Anse Are, Tanduay refused to recognize their victory until now.
“It has been fifty-five days that we are in the picket line. We are not leaving unless we are regularized,” Are stated.
According to Are, they believe that Tanduay’s snubbing of the order is “to destroy our association. For us to not build a genuine, militant, and nationalist union in Tanduay. And another is to subdue in hunger all the workers in the picket line.”
Are admitted his inability to provide for his family financially at the moment but explained to his wife that this fight is not only for him but for all of them. He worked in Tanduay for six years as an operator and in the materials issuance department. He is one of the 397 contractual employees of the Lucio Tan’s distillery.
Two months and nothing
Two months have passed since the Kentex fire and still, the families and survivors of the tragedy received no respectable support from Kentex owner Beato Ang.
“They offered P10,000 for those who worked [in Kentex] for less than a year and P20,000 for those who worked for four years. Others gave in but most workers did not. For those like me who worked for nine years, they offered nothing yet,” survivor Lea Bersabal said.
Even the families of the 74 victims said only Ang’s lawyer faces them.
Bersabal remained jobless but stated that they “will continue to fight to end labor issues and to win the criminal cases against the factory owner.”
Workers from construction company Golden Fortune Techno Built, Inc. also joined the protest.
Rogelio Justiniane, who worked in the firm since July 11, 1983, said that Golden Fortune refused to treat them as regular workers. Aside from safety violations in their workplace, he declared that there were discrepancies with their SSS contributions that they regularly pay.
Ninety-eight workers were sacked starting from December 6 last year. According to Justiniane, it is because they established a union to fight and protect their rights as workers.
Meanwhile, even if Unified Employees of Alorica (Call Center) President Sarah Preztoza enjoys being a regular employee, she said they are united with the advocacies of the contractual workers against labor issues and harassments. She declared there are inhumane practices and policies within call centers, especially those who joined the union.
Unified Employees of Alorica is the first call center union worldwide.
Photos and text by Erika Alcantara