By Vann Marlo M. Villegas, Reporter
THE Supreme Court ordered GMA Network, Inc. to reinstate 30 cameramen and assistant cameramen who were illegally dismissed in 2013.
In a statement, the SC’s public information office said the court’s third division on July 13 declared the petitioners as regular employees of GMA. It ordered the network to pay their back wages, allowances, and other benefits from the time of their dismissal up to their reinstatement.
GMA is also directed to pay each of the petitioners’ attorney’s fee equivalent to 10% of the total monetary award and the amount will have legal interest of 6% per year to be computed from the finality of the decision until full payment.
The court said there is an employer-employee relationship between the network and the camera operators who were hired between 2005 and 2011 and were all dismissed in May 2013.
It said that to be considered as independent contractors and not employees as claimed by the network, it must be proven that the petitioners were hired “because of their unique skills and talents and that GMA did not exercise control over the means and methods of their work.”
“In this case, GMA provided the equipment used during tapings and assigned supervisors to monitor the petitioners’ performance and guarantee their compliance with company protocols and standards,” the statement read.
“The Court also gave weight to petitioners’ arguments that they were regular employees having performed functions that were necessary and desirable to GMA’s usual business as a television and broadcasting company,” it said.
Only casual employees whose work is “neither necessary nor desirable to the usual business and trade” of the employer are required to render one year of service to become regular employees while those whose work is necessary attain regular status “from the time of engagement.”
There was also no showing that employees who were paid P750 to P1,500 per taping were hired because of their skills “not possessed by ordinary employees,” it said.
The court ruled that the work of the petitioners are “within the regular and usual business of GMA,” adding that “it would be absurd to consider the nature of the petitioners’ work of operating cameras as distinct or separate from the business of GMA, a broadcasting company that produces, records, and airs television programs.”
As regular employees with the right to security of tenure, they may only be terminated for “just or authorized cause, and after due notice and hearing.”
“As illegally dismissed employees, petitioners are entitled to reinstatement to their petitions with full backwages computed from the time of dismissal up to the time of actual reinstatement,” it said.
The court remanded the case to the labor arbiter to compute the backwages and other monetary awards.
A copy of the decision has yet to be posted.
GMA said it has yet to receive a copy of the decision.