Labor case of ex-GMA 'talents' reaches SC as network assails Court of Appeals ruling

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Labor case of ex-GMA 'talents' reaches SC as network assails Court of Appeals ruling
GMA Network filed a Petition for Certiorari before the Supreme Court assailing the Court of Appeals rulings dated Feb. 20 and Nov. 25, 2019.
Philstar.com / Erwin Cagadas

MANILA, Philippines — The labor case of former employees of GMA Network against the broadcasting company has reached the Supreme Court.

GMA Network filed a Petition for Certiorari before the Supreme Court, challenging the Court of Appeals’ ruling that upheld the National Labor Relations Commission decision that held the 96 “talents” of GMA Network as regular employees.

GMA said the regularization of talents will render the two parties at “mutual disadvantage in the long run” and “will affect/impact the stability of the broadcast industry as a whole.”

‘CA failed to consider peculiarity of broadcast industry’

The network giant said the appellate court “gravely erred” when it relied on the findings of the NLRC.

It said the CA and the NLRC “failed to include and/or consider the factual mileau [sic] of the herein case which is the history and peculiarity of the broadcast industry.”

The Court of Appeals, in its ruling released February 2019, held that the work of the former “talents” was integral in the business of the TV network “and when the worker, relative to the employer, does not furnish an independent business or professional service, such work is a regular employment of such employee and not an independent contractor.”

The court also stressed the former employees “were subjected to the control and supervision of petitioner GMA, a fact which is regarded as the most crucial and determinative indicator of the presence or absence of an employee-employer relationship.”

But GMA, in its petition before the SC, argued that the broadcast industry, “to a certain extent, is not governed by the basic precepts of labor and employment.”

GMA also raised that hiring “talents” for programs that have “extremely short runs” is a practice in the broadcast industry. “It would be very problematic and impractical to hire regular employees for programs...only to let go of them after the program ends, which were short-lived,” the petition read.

GMA also said the “talents” were able to work on as many programs as they can in the network. “For each program, they receive a separate talent fee, resulting in some production assistants with several programs each earning as much as a regular employee at the managerial level,” it said.

“This is a classic case of a person who wants to have his cake and eat it too,” the network also said.

Talents: GMA wants to sway SC with deceptive allegations

Talents Association of GMA described the GMA petition as “full of misleading statements.”

In a statement, TAG stressed that talents resorted to engaging in several programs in the network “to pay for their own healthcare and other statutory benefits because the network wouldn’t do so.”

Taking on several programs also meant little to no rest for the talents. “While the salaries may have sometimes matched those in the managerial level—the label conditions most certainly did not,” they said.

“We will not stand idly by while the network reduces our fight for better labor treatment to a mere metaphor,” they added.




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