CA rules network talents are regular employees
Overturning earlier decisions of the labor court, the Court of Appeals has upheld the right of television “talents” to receive the same compensation and benefits as regular network employees.
In a much-awaited decision, the appellate court said the National Labor Relations Court (NLRC) committed “grave abuse of discretion” when it twice threw out the petition of a group of “talents” who sued network giant ABS-CBN for refusing to consider them as regular employees.
The case was filed in 2008 by about 70 sound engineers, cameramen, audio men, drivers, VTR men, lightmen and camera control unit staffers of ABS-CBN.
The court said the NLRC’s ruling against the talent workers’ petition for regularization and benefit claims in October 2008 and January 2009 went against already settled precedents.
In voiding the two NLRC resolutions, the appeals court stressed that in previous similar cases filed against ABS-CBN and other networks, the court had already declared the so-called talents as regular employees.
It said the petitioners were able to adequately establish that they had an employer-employee relationship with ABS-CBN as stated under Article 280 of the Labor Code of the Philippines.
Citing this provision of the labor law, the court said the workers were deemed to be regular employees.
Working several years
Since the petitioners had been working with the network continuously “for a duration of several years,” their involvement with ABS-CBN’s operations was “strongly indicative of the necessity and desirability of the petitioners’ work.”
“We now hold that herein petitioners are regular employees of… ABS-CBN and as such, are entitled to the benefits and privileges accorded to regular employees under their collective bargaining agreement and company policy,” the appellate court said.
“Gleaned from the nature and description of the services rendered by petitioners, there is no doubt that they are necessary or desirable in the usual business or trade… of ABS-CBN,” it added.
Authority to dismiss petitioners
“In sum, since all the elements of an employer-employee relationship have been established in this case, we conclude the petitioners are regular employees of ABS-CBN,” the court said.
It added that it was “undenied” that ABS-CBN had the authority to dismiss the petitioners “in case infractions were committed in the performance of their duties.”
The 21-page ruling was penned by Associate Justice Manuel Barrios with Associate Justices Mario Guarina III and Apolinario Bruselas Jr. concurring.
The appeals court ruling could benefit hundreds of media workers who have filed similar labor suits against ABS-CBN and other broadcast companies.
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