Lensmen asks court to stop Abs-Cbn harassment

CAMERAMEN of Abs-Cbn Broadcasting Corp. sought the court's help to stop the publicly-listed media firm from coercing them to sign contracts invalidating years of service.

In documents filed June 29, the 17 workers asked National Labor Relations commissioner Romeo L. Go to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) on Abs-Cbn management's threat of dismissal if they fail to sign a new contract.

A letter signed by the company’s human resource account management head Jovelyn Sy warned one of the workers "the company will consider your silence as confirmation of your assent to the Petition [for Injunction] and the withdrawal of your conformity to your employment contract dated 16 June 2010.”

The TRO, which the workers paid P10,000 for from pooled money, was supposed to be heard June 29. Courts normally hear TRO applications as urgent and usually enforced immediately.

Go was absent during the hearings Tuesday and Thursday.

Based on Sy's letter, the workers sought Abs-Cbn “from compelling complainants to sign a) employment contract whose terms are prejudicial to the workers, [and] b) quitclaims/waiver and release herein complainants shall waive their right over the decision of the Commission recognizing complainants as regular employees and carrying with (sic) it the benefits of the regular employees under the Labor Code and also the benefits of the regular employees under the respondents CBA [collective bargaining agreement].”

The workers also asked the court to annul and not to implement the contract, waiver, quitclaims and release that they said they signed “out of fear.”

According to the petition, the workers said that Abs-Cbn’s management led by chair Eugenio Lopez III have been coercing complainants as early as February 2010 “to sign a new contract together with the quitclaims and waiver.”

“Should they fail to sign or accept the offer complainants shall [lose] their employment.”

The workers allege that Lopez issued the threat on June 15 at the company’s “Umagang Kay Ganda” studio “should they refuse to sign the new contract, quitclaims and waiver until midnight of June 16.”

A video of Lopez issuing such threat and which is available in online social network site YouTube quoted him as saying “From now on, yung mga hindi magpipirma ng kontrata, wala ng trabaho. In the past we have allowed it to go on. As of tomorrow, hindi na pwede po. So you either sign or find another job.”

According to the NLRC, the petition for injunction for a TRO will be recommended to Go late Friday or early Monday.

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