Filipino Journalists Face Another Form of Impunity: Violation of Labor Rights


In a speech at the seventh Congress of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), labor lawyer Nitz Mahinay said there is impunity not only in the killing of journalists but also in the violation of their rights to self-organization and job security.

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Contrary to perceptions that journalists enjoy glitz and glamour, journalists and media workers suffer the same job insecurity and appalling conditions no different from other Filipino workers.

In a speech at the seventh Congress of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), labor lawyer Nitz Mahinay said there is impunity not only in the killing of journalists but also in the violation of their rights to self-organization and job security.

Mahinay noted that contractualization in the Philippine media industry has become rampant. The use of in-house manpower agencies owned by the principal employer is one of the latest tactics employed against media workers. Such is the case of the ABS-CBN Internal Job Market (IJM) employees. Despite the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) decision in favor of the workers, the ABS-CBN management did not reinstate the dismissed workers and even continues to retrench them.

Delegates of the NUJP Congress spoke of various work arrangements that violate labor rights such as volunteer reporters, talent and technical staff, correspondents, among others. Some owners of media agencies also deny the existence of an employer-employee relationship.

Journalists suffer from scandalously low remuneration with some being paid per story, per commission, or with very low wages. Benefits such as insurance and hazard pay are rare, if given at all. Journalists are hardly protected from the risks of the job with no protective clothing or insurance.

Mahinay said the Supreme Court and the DOLE are ‘not consistently upholding the law.’

Propose Actions

The Congress adopted a resolution addressing this concern. The NUJP resolved to:

1. ensure the installation of a data base system that would provide the necessary information about the different working conditions of journalists in the different media, regions, and provinces to enable the union to plot out strategies and tactics to promote the rights and welfare of NUJP members,

2. study and make recommendations regarding the most effective and workable form of organization that would promote the rights and welfare of NUJP’s members, in particular, and journalists, in general such as, but not limited to, an industry union, federation, alliance, etc

3. promote education on unionism among NUJP chapters and members through the publication of a primer, the conduct of seminars on unionism and labor rights, among others

4. assist chapters and members in organizing a union and addressing their rights and welfare concerns

5. study and recommend laws, amendments to laws, policies and procedures that shall advance the rights and welfare of journalists

“We should go to the basic of organizing ourselves,” Mahinay told journalists. (Bulatlat.com)

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