ABS-CBN says hiring of non-regular employees legal under labor laws

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 30) - Television giant ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation defended that there is nothing illegal with hiring program employees and independent contractors, amid the issues surfacing on the broadcasting network’s alleged labor violations.

ABS-CBN lawyer Atty. Josabeth Alonso said that the Department of Labor has no problem with getting the services of non-regular employees, citing the Policy Instruction No. 40.

“There was never an instance that the Dept. of Labor has found this illegal,” said Alonso during the continuation of the inquiry on the broadcasting network’s franchise at the House of Representatives.

“As a matter of fact, no less than the Secretary of Labor and Employment came out with Policy Instruction No. 40, which clearly defines that there are two kinds of employees in the broadcast industry,” she added. “One of which are studio employees and the other set is program employees.”

This was backed by Paranaque City 2nd district Rep. Joy Tambunting saying that labor laws recognize different kinds of employees.

“Precisely, it has not been declared illegal because having project employees, program employees, and independent contractors is legal under our laws. It is because our labor laws recognize different kinds and forms of employment,” said Tambunting.

Moreover, Alonso pointed out that employees in the broadcast industry usually work based on the duration of the program they are working on.

“These are people part of the work pool, which are recognized by no less than the Supreme Court as a valid mode of employment, but it is only until the duration of the activity they are attached to,” she said.

Some former ABS-CBN employees, who were non-regulars, lamented during the inquiry that they worked like regular employees but they did not receive enough compensation and benefits. Some former employees also filed cases against the company for its unfair labor practices.

Yet, Alonso said that program employees have security of tenure while working on certain projects.

“All of these people who belong to the program employees are members of a work pool and regarded as regular seasonal employees, which also apply to project-based employees insofar as the continuity of their employment, which is only defined by the duration of the project they are attached to,” said the lawyer.

“So in other words, there is security of tenure during the duration of the project, they don’t have any regular working hours and they are allowed to enter into employment contracts with other companies kapag nag-end po yung proyekto nila (when their projects ended),” added Alonso.

The broadcasting network and its subsidiaries have around 11,000 employees, in which 6,705 are regular employees, 2,208 are project employees, and independent contractors are 2,158.


ABS-CBN Chief Executive Officer Carlo Katigbak said the company is open to review positions where employees could be regularized.

“We are willing to look and see which positions in the company deserve to be regularized. We're asking for time to gradually introduce the change,” said Katigbak. “Sa mga posisyon na hindi talaga pwedeng i-regular (In the positions that cannot be regularized), we're committed to align the benefits.”

But Katigbak said that they can only keep their employees if the Congress would grant them another 25-year franchise.

ABS-CBN admitted there are 67 pending labor cases against the network filed by employees in different levels of the government.

Labor Undersecretary Ana Dione said that there are no more pending cases against the network before the agency.

Meanwhile, the National Labor Relations Commission said about 60-percent of illegal dismissal with money claims were in favor of the employees, while 40-percent were in favor of the company.