Strike against the repressive, greedy radio broadcasting network

The RMN Davao Employees Union launched a strike July 10, 2012, nearly two years after it entered into Collective Bargaining negotiations with the Radio Mindanao Network management. Twenty technicians, reporters and other rank-and-file workers of the top-rating AM and FM station refused to go to work Tuesday, a month after it filed a Notice of Strike against the firm’s refusal to continue CBA negotiations.

For at least eight hours, the AM station DXDC was rendered off-air before the management forcibly entered its transmitter site in Madapo Hills, Davao city. Over the last 24 hours,  RMN management managed to broadcast via remote airing, even as it attempted to sneak in two technicians and an engineer from its sister station in General Santos City. The militant RDEU members cried against the deliberate attempt by the management to use scabs to diminish the crippling paralysis of the strike. RMN’s FM Station is still off air.

The strike is a culmination of nearly two years of hard struggle against the management’s underhanded tactics and greedy schemes.

Suffering from low wages and lack of security of tenure, workers formed the RDEU, first as an independent union last August 10, 2010,  with an original 25 members. Deeper understanding of genuine trade unionism and study in Philippine social realities led the RDEU to affiliate with the militant National Federation of Labor Unions-Kilusang Mayo Uno (NAFLU-KMU) in May 2, 2011. The RDEU won over a fake yellow union backed by the management in the name of MCL-Tupas during a Certification Elections 15 days later.

On July 28, 2011, the RDEU, as a sole and exclusive bargaining agent in the RMN, presented its CBA proposal for a P75-P50-P50 wage increase scheme spread in 3 years to the RMN management during the first meeting of their CBA negotiations. The management, however, scoffed the salary increment proposal and instead presented on September 21 its position for a two year moratorium on pay hikes citing that it was incurring losses.

The RDEU firmly debunked the management’s stance because the RMN Davao branch ranked 2nd among the RMN stations nationwide to have the highest profits.  The P75 wage increase proposal by the RDEU would mean an additional P99,000 monthly expense on the part of the management, a drop in the bucket, so to speak, in the face of the firm’s monthly P24 million gross sales.

The differing stance forced the RDEU to declare a deadlock in the negotiations and file a notice of strike on September 26. Acting on a mandate that it maintain the Aquino government’s zero-strike policy, the NCMB averted the threat of labor strike by resolving the CBA deadlock through series of mediations.

On November 11, at 11pm, the two parties finally hammered a Memorandum of Agreement to break the impasse. Instead of wage increase moratorium in the 1st year, the RMN management agreed to grant the workers a lumpsum amount of an average of P10,000  for every employee or based in his/her length of service. The RMN management also promised to continue with CBA negotiations  by May 2012 to settle the wage increase scheme and tackle other provisions such as rice subsidy, meal allowance and union security clause provision.

But by June 2012, after several follow ups and reminders to the management, no such CBA negotiations were initiated. The RMN Human Resource manager Carmela Cabactan offered lame excuses to the union, such as claiming that negotiations could not commence because the RMN owner Eric Canoy was out of the country. It was an empty justification considering that Canoy was never part of the negotiating panel.

The RMN management further claimed that it will have to review the Memorandum of Agreement even as the document was verified true and implementable by the authorized representatives of the RMN management in the person of Atty. Martin Heje and Mr. Leo Daugdaug.

The gross indifference, if not callousness on the part of the management to resume CBA negotiations forced the union to again, seek ways to make its position be heard. It filed a Notice of strike, the second time around, on June 4, 2012.

Four mediation meeting followed the strike declaration and in all but the fourth meeting, the management failed to present its authorized representatives; it asked for a three-week extension to form its negotiating panel. In a worse case of delaying tactic, the management even asked the union to submit a position letter where the latter will state the points for discussion when the negotiations begin.

During the last meeting in July 5, a new counsel, Atty Rommel Cubelo, appeared on behalf of the management, and asked for an appointment on July 11 for another round of talks. He also maintained that the management wants to revisit the terms of the Memorandum of Agreement, an assertion which clearly attempts to dissolve the MOA as a legitimate and valid pre-CBA measure inked by the two parties.

Clearly, the RMN management is firm in its original stance to refuse to acquiesce to the just demands of the RDEU workers. It maintains its hardline position to protect its capitalist interest, preserve the highest profit margins, and continue to ignore the suffering of its workers. As a company already in the business for 60 years, it can surely give in to the small demands of the union. Its owner, Eric Canoy, who heads the government station IBC 13, enjoys the protection of the vastly anti-worker government of Pres. Aquino.

In the face of flagrant hardline stance by the profit-greedy capitalist RMN management, the RDEU workers are now engaged in a temporary work stoppage, in a collective strike against the abusive, repressive, unjust and anti-worker RMN management. The RDEU is prepared to frustrate the management’s sneaky schemes to render the strike paralysis inutile and destroy our solidarity and unity. The RDEU is maximizing the full potential and spirit of the constitutional right to freedom of expression and assembly and launch a strike to protect its collective interest and just demands.