RMN workers on strike protest ‘illegal broadcast’ of AM station
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Reporters and employees of the Radio Mindanao Network (RMN) here who have gone on strike have accused the management of illegally broadcasting its AM station.
On Wednesday, the employees, along with various labor unions marched in protest of what they called the illegal move of RMN. The radio employees and their supporters simultaneously led protest actions in Manila, Cagayan de Oro and General Santos City.
RMN’s AM and FM stations here were shut down by the employees last October 2 after their notice of strike was recognized by the government following the collapse of conciliation meetings.
On Oct. 3, RMN’s AM station returned on air and has since been operated from an undisclosed location. The union called this a runaway shop and an illegal move meant to undermine the impact of the workers’ strike as recognized by the Labor Code.
“The continuing broadcast is a form of runaway shop and is illegal. We challenge the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) to do something to prevent the media network from airing illegally. We also challenge the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the government agency mandated to resolve labor disputes, to use its police power and stop the illegal broadcast,” said RMN Davao Employers Union (RDEU) president Gina Hitgano.
The union also lambasted the recent memorandum issued by the management which has threatened to file charges against employees who “have no desire to work or have no business during the day” should they enter the premises of the station and the transmitter sites.
“Please be advised that violators will be properly dealt with by law,” the unsigned memorandum said.
“RMN should respect our right to strike. We have been threatened with police blotters since Day 1. The management even used its rabid anti-union commentators in its smear campaign against us to dissuade favorable public sentiment for the strike. But we reiterate that we are complying with the guidelines in the conduct of a lawful strike,” Hitgano said in a statement.
The union, meanwhile, said the law has provided little about the responsibility of the management during a strike.
“Ninety-nine percent of the guidelines expressly provided what the workers cannot do in the event of a strike. There is no corresponding magnitude of responsibility that refers to how the management should behave when a strike is declared,” Hitgano said.
In 2012, RDEU launched and won their first strike resulting in several agreements, including the renegotiation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in 2014.
“The management has since failed to implement job security provisions agreed upon in the CBA. Until now, RMN Davao has three vacant positions for regular items in their FM department and four vacant positions in the AM department. The RMN management, however, hired “talents” instead of probationary employees, despite the complaint made by the RDEU in the grievance committee hearing,” the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines-Davao said in a statement.
NUJP also reported that RDEU workers complained of lesser assignments and censorship in their outputs, acts of management that have compromised journalistic and ethical standards.
“Identified union members who were previously given seven assignments per day are wantonly censored for content considered by the management as ‘left-leaning’ such as valid issues of workers, peasants and human rights. News sources are limited that the output become clearly biased. Identified union announcers are not anymore allowed to broadcast their news but are instead canned, trimmed and skipped to favor a particular group such as the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” NUJP-Davao said.
Efforts to reach the RMN management for comment failed. Its office has been locked up since the strike started.
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