GMA 7 takes labor case to SC
MANILA, Philippines — Broadcast giant GMA Network has asked the Supreme Court to reverse a Court of Appeals decision declaring about 100 of its “talents” as regular employees.
In a petition for review on certiorari dated January 20, GMA Network through its CEO Felipe Gozon said the appellate court “gravely erred” when it affirmed the findings of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) even when the facts and evidence of the case show the contrary.
“The Honorable Court of Appeals mis-appreciated the ultimate facts of the herein case as supported by substantial evidence and, accordingly, misapplied existing laws and jurisprudence in coming up with the assailed decision and resolution,” read the petition.
“In fact, the Honorable Court of Appeals mostly echoed the findings of the NLRC with a claim of supporting substantial evidence when the same is clearly not the case and without considering the contrary facts and circumstances which are the ones supported by substantial evidence. Clearly, the Honorable Court of Appeals gravely erred in finding that respondents are regular employees of GMA,” it added.
The appeals court, using the four-fold test, said that an employer-employee exists between GMA-7 and the “talents.” The test includes the selection and engagement of the employee; the payment of wages; the power of dismissal; and the employer’s power to control the employee on the means and methods by which the work is accomplished.
“There is no denying that under the Talent Agreement, petitioner GMA has the power to discharge private respondents should it find their work failed to meet its standards and the latter is highly dependent on the former for continued work,” the appeals court stressed.
It added that the respondents were subjected to the control and supervision of GMA, “a fact which is regarded as the most crucial and determination indicator of the presence or absence of an employer-employee relationship.”
The appellate court noted that GMA has imposed standards that the respondents should follow based on their job descriptions.
But GMA, in its petition to the Supreme Court, said the “talents” were hired for their unique talents and expertise.
“This makes it improbable for petitioner GMA to technically exercise control over the performance of the work except for the quality of the results,” GMA said.
It pointed out that the NLRC and the appeals court failed to consider the factual milieu of the case, which is the history and peculiarity of the broadcast industry and the relationship surrounding the petitioner and respondents when it rendered the assailed decisions.
The television network added that respondents were previously offered regular positions which they declined as they would receive lesser pay, lose flexibility in terms of time and project as they have more than one show or program for which they received different talent fees and be burdened with more work.
Meanwhile, the Talents Association of GMA (TAG) said the television network’s petition “is full of misleading statements in an attempt to sway the Supreme Court to reverse the consistent decisions of the NLRC and the Court of Appeals.”
“GMA Network Inc would have the Supreme Court believe that talents are like outsourced production houses. In the industry, some programs are outsourced to production houses such that the independent outfit just submits a finished product for airing. Such is not the case for the petitioners – and everyone we have worked for and within the network can attest to that,” they added.
They explained that like other employees, they were hired by the network after passing the examinations, interviews — the normal procedures that every employee would have undergone to have a regular job.
“We report to the office every day, on the call time set by our respective programs, and stay for the duration of the production period until our program ends its air. While the public affairs talents have less rigid schedules, it’s just because they do not air daily as compared to the newscasts, but everyone in the network can attest they are in the office more than “once a week, lasting just a few hours,” TAG added.
The group said they welcome the GMA’s move to take the case to the Supreme Court because they will also have the chance “to present not only our arguments but our hard realities that also reflect the realities of many talents like us, in the media industry and outside.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.