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.
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)