While the Radio Mindanao Network’s Davao workers are on strike and the Manila workers battling for the certification of its union, the management, the workers said, has been delaying the negotiations and has been trying to bust the union.
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – In Davao City in Mindanao, workers of the Radio Mindanao Network (RMN)and other organizations of journalists and unionists slammed the Canoy family-run network for continuously violating its workers’ rights.
RMN reportedly ignored the provisions of a memorandum of agreement it had signed with its employees’ union last year, forcing the radio workers union to launch a strike for decent wages since July 10.
After many failed negotiations between the union and RMN at the labor department this week, the union aired complaints that since the first day of their strike, “all actions taken by RMN management against the striking workers were illegal.”
Despite the picket put up by the strikers, RMN reportedly tried to sneak three personnel – two technicians and an engineer – into the station.
“It committed a run-away shop by sneaking out from the studio three units of microphone stands, two units of microphones, a logbook, one unit of headset, one laptop adapter and one set of small speakers,” said Rey Fabe, president of the RMN Davao Employees Union. RMN is apparently trying to restart broadcasting even if its workers are on strike and it has yet to resolve the issues that led the workers to strike.
Aside from committing a runaway shop, the RMN has padlocked the studio’s main gate “in a blatant attempt to make it appear that the union is violating the egress and ingress provisions of the Labor Code pertaining to the strike,” Fabe said. He added that while the RMN management is harassing and intimidating the strikers, and manning a relay station despite the ongoing strike, “it sent representatives to negotiations with the union but it did not give it authority to make a decent offer and counter-proposal.”
Fabe questioned RMN’s sincerity in negotiating with the union. Apart from RMN’s proven record of having reneged on an agreement it had signed with the union, the two lawyers or representatives it is sending to talks with the union are making moves “that clearly smack of the management’s callousness and insincerity,” said Fabe.
Even if the radio workers are already on strike, the management lawyers are delaying the scheduling of talks, a sign that it is likely not interested in resolving the labor dispute, the union said in a statement. The RMN management’s actions reveal its intentions to resume broadcasting sans the original, long-time workers.
Workers’ strike and demands justified
“We believe in the legitimacy of the demands raised by the workers knowing that the company (RMN) has been earning huge profits. It is but rightful that the workers be given an ample share in the profits they have produced for the company,” the NonoyLibrado Development Foundation Incorporated (NLDFi), a non-government organization advocating workers’ rights in Mindanao, said in a statement.
Emma Ricaforte, NLDFI’s executive director, said that “the workers’ hard labors have gained for RMN not only huge profits but prestige as the topmost radio station in the city and all throughout Mindanao. This is more than enough reason for the company to be considerate and concerned about the welfare of its employees.”
“It is clear that sheer greed is behind RMN’s refusal to sit down with the workers to discuss their demands,” the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said in a statement.
Radio workers from Radio Mindanao Network-Manila which also filed a strike notice due to a union-busting complaint, told Bulatlat.com that they are in support of their fellow workers in Davao.
Unlike the RMN Davao Employees Union, the newly formed union in RMN-Manila is still at the stage of getting certification as the employees’ sole bargaining agent. It has only recently received the labor department’s go-signal to its petition to hold a certification election.
Just the process of acquiring this go-signal had been met with resistance from RMN, as it responded by terminating some union officers, including the union president Michael Rogas. This week, as RMN is reportedly violating the RMN-Davao workers’ rights, it is trying to foil the efforts of the RMN-Manila employees’ union to get certification.
RMN has filed a perjury case against Rogas, and is reportedly conducting a “text-blast” to employees about the alleged perjury. RMN isclaiming Rogas has perjured himself when he identified himself as union president of RMN Manila employees even if he has been terminated from his job.
“This is pure harassment,” Rogas told Bulatlat.com. He explained that RMN is ignoring a labor department decision that said he has legal capacity to act as president of the union because he has a pending case before DOLE-NCMB (Department of Labor and Employment- National Conciliation and Mediation) against RMN’s union-busting.
RMN-Manila is set to hold its certification election on Aug 15. Meanwhile, the RMN Davao unionists vowed they would continue with their strike, “in a peaceful and legal conduct to press the RMN management to implement the Memorandum of Agreement and resume the CBA negotiations.”
“In the face of the management’s anti-worker and hardline stance, the RMN Davao Employees Union will pursue the progressive and vigilant means to demand to the management and to the state its rightful wages, benefits and jobsecurity,” Fabe said. The union stressed that only by conducting the strike can they defend the interest of the workers and protect press freedom.