IFJ Concerned Over Deterioration of Workers' Rights in Pakistan

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation representing over 500,000 journalists worldwide, has expressed concern today over the continued deterioration of workers’ rights in Pakistan, as highlighted by the resolutions passed at the Federal Executive Council of the IFJ affiliate in Pakistan, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and the National Executive Committee of the All Pakistan Newspaper Employees Confederation (APNEC).

“Workers’ rights in Pakistan are deteriorating at a rapid rate,” said IFJ President Christopher Warren today.

“With the failure to implement the Seventh Wage Board decision and erosion of fundamental rights such as leave entitlements and access to health insurance, Pakistani journalists are suffering,” said Warren today.

The PFUJ and the APNEC released a statement on 12 May, outlining the resolutions passed in their three-day meetings. The first resolution was demanding that the newspaper owners implement the Seventh Wage Board Decision. The meeting also called for newspaper employees who have worked for more than 90 days to be instated as full-time employees, according to Pakistani labour laws.

The largest factor contributing to the deterioration of journalists’ rights is the failure of the Pakistani Government to force newspaper owners to implement the Seventh Wage Board decision, handed down on 8 October 2001.

“The failure on behalf of the Government to implement the Seventh Wage Board decision has meant that wages for journalists remain frozen at the level they were in the year 2000,“ said Warren.

The newspaper owners are bound by the Wage Board decision as stipulated by the Newspapers Employers Act (Condition of Service) 1973. On 8 October 2001, representatives of both employers and employees unanimously agreed upon the Seventh Wage Board decision.

In addition to thousands of newspaper employees not receiving their due wages and salaries, journalists have been deprived of medical and other facilities entitled to them by law.

“Pakistan’s suffering underpaid journalists have not seen a wage rise in their pocket for years,“ said Warren.

“It’s time journalists in Pakistan received fair wages for their work and we are again calling on the immediate implementation of the Seventh Wage Board decision for journalists,” says the IFJ.

The IFJ, in support of the Pakistani affiliate, the PFUJ, has called on the Government of Pakistan to implement the Seventh Wage Board decision and constitute the Eighth Wage Board, which the IFJ insists should be for three years instead of five.

In addition to the failure to implement the Seventh Wage Board decision, thousands of journalists who work at regional newspapers are experiencing deteriorating working conditions. Thousands of Sindh journalists are working without appointment letters, medical insurance and without leave provisions. In addition, hundreds of newspaper workers from Islamabad and Peshawar have been working for months unpaid.

The IFJ, in support of the PFUJ and the APNEC also demands that the Business Recorder Management reinstate its senior sub-editor Abdul Remna Baluch, respecting the Supreme Court’s verdict in his favour.

IFJ expresses concern over a pattern of violence directed towards photojournalists by religious and political activists. The IFJ condemns the attack against press photographers during the protests that occurred after the bomb blast in a mosque in Karachi on Friday, 7 May. Several photographers’ cameras were smashed and burnt by protestors condemning the bomb blast. This incident follows a pattern of violence directed towards photojournalists by religious and political activists.

To read a full list of the resolutions from the three-day meeting please see www.ifj-asia.org/pakistan.html

For further information, please contact Christopher Warren on +61 411 757 668