House panel approves bill providing better pay, benefits to media workers

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 4) — The House Committee on Labor and Employment has approved a bill seeking to protect and provide better pay and benefits to media workers.

“Wala nang reporter na magko-cover ng bagyo na garbage bag lang ang suot para maprotektahan ang sarili," ACT-CIS Party-list Representative and former journalist Niña Taduran said.

[Translation: There will no longer be a reporter who will cover a typhoon wearing a garbage bag to protect himself or herself.]

Taduran is also the main author of the proposed 'Media Workers Welfare Act', which aims to professionalize the media industry.

“Journalists, technical people and other media workers will be treated as professionals and will be secured as they do their jobs," Taduran said. "Matatapos na ang mga panahong lagi silang may takot tungkol sa estado ng kanilang trabaho at kapag lumalabas sa mapanganib na coverage.”

[Translation: Journalists, technical people, and other media workers will be treated as professionals and will be secured as they do their jobs. They will no longer be scared about the state of their job, especially going out for a dangerous coverage.]

Minimum compensation

Under the proposed measure, media workers shall not receive less than the applicable minimum wage rate mandated by the law.

They should be entitled to overtime pays and night shift premiums and other benefits provided by the Labor Code of the Philippines.

Social Security and Welfare Benefits

The bill also mandates that all media workers must be covered by the Social Security System (SSS), Pag-Ibig fund, and Philippine Health Insurance Corporation or PhilHealth upon their employment.

Hazard pay and regularization

Highlighting the importance of journalists in delivering news and information in times of disasters and national events, media workers are entitled to hazard pay under this bill.

"'Media workers required to physically report for work in dangerous areas, distressed or isolated stations, disease-infected areas, places under state of calamity or emergency like contagion, radiation, volcanic eruption, and other occupational risks and perils to life under the Department of Labor and Employment shall be compensated with a hazard pay," the bill stated.

Media workers should also be regularized six months after their probationary employment.

Creation of a News Media Tripartite Council

The Labor Department is also tasked to create a council which will serve as a link between stakeholders and become a venue to settle conflicts and discuss issues concerning the media industry.

Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Ferdinand Gaite previously opposed placing media workers under the helm of Presidential Communications Operations Office or PCOO saying this is dangerous to media freedom.

The house panel expects President Rodrigo Duterte will approve the bill early next year.