IFJ Opposes Bid to Repeal Pakistan Law on Journalists' Working Conditions

The

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) fully endorses the stand taken by

its affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), in opposing a demand

by Pakistan’s

apex organisation of newspaper owners for the repeal of the Newspaper

Employees’ (Conditions of Service) Act.

 

“The Act

is an important safeguard for workers’ rights and journalism as a profession,

and the IFJ is concerned at moves by the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS)

to repeal it,” IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

 

“Although the

record of implementation leaves much to be desired, the Act is a fallback

guarantee of the dignity of journalism and, by implication, the freedom of the

press.”

 

The IFJ calls

on the APNS and its president, Hameed Haroon, to honour the law rather than

seek its repeal or “substantial amendment”.

 

The IFJ

disagrees with the APNS assertion that “the fundamental rights guaranteed to

the newspaper establishments under the Constitution are being contravened under

the present law”.

 

According

to information made available by the PFUJ, the constitutional validity of the Act

has already been dealt with by Pakistan’s

Supreme Court. Judicial bodies in other countries with similar laws have also

determined that there is nothing in the laws that infringes on press freedom

guarantees.

 

Consistent

with its position that there can be no press freedom where journalists live in

conditions of poverty, corruption or fear, the IFJ calls on the APNS to suspend

its effort to seek the repeal of a law that was passed virtually unanimously by

Pakistan’s

Parliament.

 

“The

newspaper owners’ refusal to honour the law and to implement successive wage awards

made under its stipulations are the main impediments to growth and quality

improvement in the print media in Pakistan,” IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

 

The IFJ

urges the APNS to enter into a constructive dialogue with the PFUJ and other

unions of newspaper workers to address practical ways to implement the

statutory wage awards for journalists and newspaper employees.

 

“The IFJ recalls

the role played by the PFUJ in the recent campaign for press freedom in Pakistan

and appreciates the spirit of cooperation that was displayed then by the APNS,”

IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

 

“That

spirit of cooperation needs to be carried forward to ensure a fair deal for

journalists in Pakistan

and a new beginning for press freedom in the country.”

 

For

further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919

 

The

IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 122 countries