TV5 workers buck wage increase moratorium


RANK AND FILE media employees are being left out as a giant media network is posed to earn many millions in political advertisements in this year’s national elections.

The ABC Employees’ Union (ABCEU) is protesting the offer of a “guaranteed” P1,500 per regular employee per month over three years in their ongoing collective bargaining negotiations with the TV5 management.

“Based on the network’s 2013 elections rate card of P444,000 per 30-second primetime political ads, the company is set to earn big this year.  Yet they insist we agree to a wage increase moratorium on the first year of the new collective bargaining agreement,” ABCEU president Vladimir Martin said.

The union picketed the network’s media center at Reliance Street in Mandaluyong City Friday night to protest the company’s “hard line” stance in the negotiations.

“We already lowered our demand from P12,000 monthly wage increase to be given in trenches over the five-year effective life of the new CBA  but there has been no change in the management’s position,” Martin said.

TV5 management, according to Martin, is insisting a wage moratorium for 2016, a P1,500 monthly wage increase for 2017 and another P1,500 monthly increase for 2017.

But management is only guaranteeing 50 percent on the wage increases, with the other 50 percent to depend on the performance of each regular employee.

“Their offer seems substantial already, but it is actually deceitful.  It is a two-tiered, performance-based wage scheme that only guarantees us P1,500 increase over three years,” Martin said.

Management’s offer is a far cry from the 2010 CBA where regular workers were given a P9,500 increase over five years, given as P4,500 in 2010; P1,000 in 2011 and 2012; and P1,500 in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

ABCEU said they find it unjust that the management wants a wage increase moratorium at a time when the company’s financial standing has become better.



Still losing money

“Aside from the projected windfall from political advertisements, TV5 has won the contracts to broadcast UFC mixed martial arts events and FIBA qualifying tournaments for the next Olympics,” Martin said.

“Besides, TV5’s capital outlay such as the new media center and state-of-the-art equipment should not be counted as loses but as company investments instead,” he added.

“The management gave us a substantial wage increase in 2010 when our liability to asset rate is a dismal .22:1.  Currently, our liability to asset outlook has improved to .83:1,” Martin said.

The union believes that TV5 is inching closer to GMA Network, the country’s second television network, in terms of income.

TV5 was acquired by MediaQuest Holdings Inc. in 2009 from businessman Antonio Cojuangco for P4 billion. MediaQuest is a member of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company group controlled by Manuel V. Pangilinan.

Newspaper reports in June 2012 said that the television network lost P4.14 billion but Pangilinan has disclosed to Interaksyon in 2014 that he foresees TV5 to break even in 2017.  The Interaksyon report said Pangilinan did not disclose figures.

TV5 opened its new 6,000 square meters media center in Mandaluyong in 2013 reportedly built for P6 billion.  Its old Novaliches headquarters still houses various company offices and the network’s transmitter and tower site.


Overworked, underpaid

ABCEU said that the management should admit that the workers are the ones who generate broadcast content.

“We are in charge of news coverage, we produce the various live and canned shows and we edit them all.   We are the camerapersons, the lights persons, the audio persons, the librarians, the drivers.  All the work we do for the company is necessary,” Martin said.

The union leader disclosed that the workers often work overtime because they need the extra pay and to cover for the lack of personnel.

“Our 15-day vacation and 15-day sick leaves are often cancelled because the regular workforce keeps getting streamlined.  For example, TV5 only has eight regular drivers while more than 100 are engaged as ‘contractuals’.  At the transmitter site, we only have three personnel who work on eight-hour shifts.  We often have to miss family activities because there are no regular relievers,” Martin said.

The union is also protesting “secret” exceptions to their medical benefits as well as changes made to the company’s code of conduct unilaterally altered by management.

The union said that a just CBA would inspire the workers to work harder.

At the picket-protest the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, Talents Association of GMA, College Editors Guild of the Philippines, People’s Alternative Media Network, as well as other labor unions expressed solidarity with ABCEU.

“It is a sad and alarming trend among the country’s media giants that the profit motive has taken all precedence over public service and their obligations to the very people whose hard work ensures that they can continue both informing and educating our people and, at the same time, earning,” the NUJP in a statement said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

COMMENTARY: Duterteconomics doesn’t share labor’s ideology

by Raymund B. Villanueva

DAVAO CITY MAYOR Rodrigo Duterte launched his bid for the presidency last Tuesday in Tondo with a threat against militant labor. Singling Kilusang Mayo Uno out, he said he will kill all those who would organize labor unions in economic enclaves he plans on putting up. There should be no labor unions in these enclaves for 10 years or there would be a decade of carnage, he said.

He was obviously referring to something similar to Davao City’s bloodbath against perceived criminals, mostly petty offenders. Laughter could be heard in the videos when Duterte uttered his threat. There was nothing funny in it at all. It was beyond outrageous; it was ominous.

What gall the mayor has to think he shares militant labor’s ideology when he asks them to stop defending workers’ rights. Labor unions protect workers from low wages, unpaid benefits, unjust working conditions and other forms of exploitation. Only an unthinking and unfeeling person could dismiss unionism’s contributions to humanity by threatening them with bloody death, even jestingly (which the video proves was not).

Capitalism, proletarian ideology’s antithesis, is, above all else, exploitation of workers. Special economic zones were invented to worsen this exploitation.

According to the Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research, the Philippines has 326 special economic zones as of May 2015, 68 of which are manufacturing enclaves. While these numbers look impressive Duterte should know that these only employed 735,000 in 2010, or a mere two percent of the country’s employed labor. Current SEZ employment figures remain essentially unchanged.

At the Subic SEZ, Korean giant Hanjin has more than 20,000 workers building giant ships. All of them are contractual employees engaged through a number of contractors. EILER reports that Filipino workers are verbally and physically abused by their Korean bosses on a daily basis and are often served with stale meals. Many accidents occur in this enclave, often deadly, without making the news. Media and even local government officials are barred from entering the shipyard. Shouldn’t Duterte promise to look into such reports first before foisting the specter of more special economic zones at Filipino laborers?

Duterte may be charming to some, but I seriously doubt his brand of charm would be able to reverse the general decline of direct foreign investments into Philippine manufacturing. There is no need for more SEZs when the government is still desperate to fill up those already existing. What few foreign investments that trickle into the local economy go to the stock market and real estate industry, which are part of the speculative market. The doddering global capitalism rolls this way nowadays. It is absolutely unnecessary to threaten militant labor with mayhem when his SEZs are still figments of his bloody imagination.

Moreover, Duterte is being redundant when he threatens militant labor with bloodshed. Economic zones have an unwritten “no union, no strike” policy. SEZ security forces are especially trained to quell any union activity. There is very little government oversight in these special zones, except when there is labor unrest. In such cases, the government always sides with the capitalists anyway. All too often, labor leaders and union members end up killed. Is this what Duterteconomics wants continued?

KMU was quick to criticize Duterte’s statement, as it should. KMU asked if Duterte was joking. The labor center said Duterte made a big joke of himself and should take back his words. It also asked the candidate to stand with labor unions and not with greedy capitalists. I share KMU’s wonder what kind of “respectful” labor unions Duterte wants.

Duterte must think that KMU will not dare criticize his statement because he helped in some labor disputes in Davao City in the past. He clearly showed his capacity to violate labor and other human rights when he could utter threats just like that. Such statements and his kind must never be tolerated, alliances notwithstanding.

Lastly, Duterte’s supporters should know it was the dictator Marcos who first put up SEZs in this country via the Bataan Special Economic Zone in 1969. Ominous, isn’t it? #