CHR supports bill seeking regularization, hazard pay for media workers

Commission on Human Rights expressed its support on the bill seeking to provide regularization and hazard pay to all workers in the media industry.

Under Senate Bill 1820 by Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, regularization, insurance benefits, overtime, and night differential pay would be provided to media workers.

“The current health pandemic emphasizes the importance of a free media in ensuring the dissemination of timely and factual information to help educate the Filipino citizenry on the health impacts of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the ways to prevent its transmission,” said spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia.

“The adverse economic effects brought about by the pandemic, however, has led to the enactment of retrenchment policies by several media entities and franchise holders, leaving numerous media professionals with no income and support system to weather the negative economic effects of COVID-19,” she added.

Recently, many contractual workers and employees with project employment contracts (PEC) were laid off on GMA News TV (GNTV), which happened in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns.

Regularization, hazard pay for media workers

According to De Guia, this problem of retrenchment is rampant by unreasonably calling such employees as contractual, better known as the “talent system” in the media world. As a result, the employees above have no employee-employer relationship and do not receive benefits even after serving for years.

This is although their contracts are repeatedly renewed beyond the six-month probationary period, which proves that they are essential in the industry. Under current laws, when a person is part of a core business beyond this period and continues to work, an employee will automatically become a regular.

The talent system often happens on giant television media networks, requiring many people while earning revenue. Some companies are breaking the law and claiming that they only have a contract with “one show,” to not be regularized.

“As a country that prides itself with having a free press. Ensuring the protection and just compensation of media practitioners is essential in ensuring the protection of the freedom of expression and the right of individuals to access information,” De Guia added.