ABS-CBN ‘fully compliant’ with ‘directives’ on labor standards, DOLE exec tells House
MANILA, Philippines — ABS-CBN has “fully complied” with general labor standards, occupational health and safety standards, and measures to ensure the security of tenure of its employees following “directives” issued by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) after it found some violations during an inspection conducted on the media giant from July to September 2018.
Labor Undersecretary Ana Dione revealed this at a House hearing held on Monday on the media giant’s bid to for another 25-year franchise.
The hearing was jointly conducted by the Committee on Legislative Franchises and the Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability.
According to Dione, the DOLE issued an order on Jan. 28, 2020, “dropping ABS-CBN as respondent” to the issues raised against it during the inspection it conducted from July to September 2018.
After that inspection, there was a series of mandatory conferences conducted to give ABS-CBN a venue to submit proof of compliance or submit employment records to disprove the alleged violations.
Dione said the Jan. 28 order was issued after ABS-CBN was found to be “fully compliant with the directives of the department.”
But Dione clarified that the inspection findings did not touch on the illegal dismissal cases filed against the network at the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC).
“So when we say ABS-CBN fully complied, we refer to the findings during the inspection. We don’t refer to the cases of illegal dismissal filed before the NLRC,” Dione said.
Meanwhile, Mark Nepomuceno, former head of ABS-CBN corporate services group, said that ABS-CBN was “fully compliant” with the country’s labor laws.
“ABS-CBN’s being compliant is a result of the company’s continued striving to act in a way that believes to be in accordance with the law,” Nepomuceno said in Filipino.
Former employees air grievances
Also present at the hearing were two former employees of ABS-CBN who aired their grievances against the network.
Journalie Payonan — who represents cameramen, audio men, drivers, and gen-set operators who were dismissed by the network — said that ABS-CBN ordered him and those employees to transfer to the network’s in-house manpower agency named Internal Job Market (IJM).
“We had no choice at the time except to follow the mandate of our superior because we cannot receive our salaries and benefits unless we abide by the mandate to join IJM as talent employees,” Payonan said.
“We performed our jobs along with the regular employees of ABS-CBN, but we remained as talent employees,” he added.
As talent employees, Payonan said they did not enjoy the benefits received by regular employees — such a yearly salary increase and sign-in bonuses under the collective bargaining agreement.
“We were left behind in terms of salaries, bonuses, and other benefits. We have no personal insurance in the performance of our jobs but our equipment, camera lights and the like were covered by the insurance. Equipment was given higher regard than the life of the talent employees,” Payonan said.
Following their dismissal between 2009 and 2010, more than 100 workers filed illegal dismissal cases in different batches and groups against ABS-CBN, he added.
Meanwhile, Christopher Mendoza, a former audio man of ABS-CBN, said that they were threatened with losing their jobs if they would not drop their case against the network.
Despite this, Mendoza said their group was against the shutdown of ABS-CBN.
“I repeat: My group stands for ‘no to shut down.’ But we need and we are asking for justice for our removal in 2010,” Mendoza said in Filipino.
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