Friday, July 1, 2011

Journalists meet PM over wage board notification

Anguished over the inordinate delay in notifying recommendations of Justice Majithia wage boards, leaders of journalists and non-journalists organisations today sought personal intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to get it implemented immediately. "I know my duty," the Prime Minister said when a five-member delegation of the organisations explained their just case and lamented that the government has not issued notification even six months after Justice Majithia submitted his final report to the Union Labour Ministry.

When Dr Singh enquired as to why the issue had not yet come up before the Union Cabinet, his Media Advisor Harish Khare informed that Cabinet note on the recommendations has not been prepared so far.

The delegation, who met the Prime Minister for 25 minutes at his 7 Race Course office, said Dr Singh also enquired if journalists had taken up the issue with the Labour Minister. The delegates informed the Prime Minister they had met several Union Ministers, including Mallikarjun Kharge, Pranab Mukherjee and Ambika Soni, to press for early notification of the recommendations.

The delegates rubbished newspaper employers' "disinformation campaign" against Justice Majithia's recommendations, saying they have had always launched such "vicious propaganda" to escape from paying wages recommended by similar wage boards constituted by the government from time to time since Independence.

In a memorandum submitted to the Prime Minister, they countered the employers' claim that burden of recommendations could lead to closure of newspapers. The delegates said the new wages suggested by the boards would amount only to a modest increase of just 3 to 3.5 per cent of the gross revenue earned by the newspaper industry and not a 100 per cent increase as claimed by the employers.

The delegates claimed that gross revenue of newspapers in the ten-year period ended 2007-08 had increased to Rs 68,853 crore from Rs 36,625 crore even as there is no record of a single newspaper having been closed because of wage burden.

They informed the Prime Minister they failed to see any reason behind newspaper owners denying them statutory wages when they are paying crores to their chief executive officers(CEOs) and contract editors. While denying minimum wages, the newspaper barons, in fact, even want to get the Working Journalists Act scrapped.

The delegation comprised of Rajinder Prabhu of National Union of Journalists, M S Yadav of Federation of PTI Employees Unions, M L Joshi of UNI Workers Union, Suresh Akhourie of Indian Journalists Union and Madan Talwar of All India Newspaper Employees Association.The meeting took place close on the heels of nationwide protest on June 28 by journalists and non-journalists against delay in the notification of recommendations.
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