Newspaper Industry Must Cease Obstruction and Implement Wage Award


International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is concerned at a petition filed

by a leading newspaper group in India’s

Supreme Court, arguing that the recent wage award for journalists and other

newspaper employees, violates the fundamental rights provisions of the Indian




the petition filed by the Kolkata-based Ananda Bazar Patrika newspaper group on

July 18, India’s

Supreme Court directed that the long delayed wage award be kept in abeyance

till the matter is finally determined.


The two

Wage Boards constituted under India’s

Working Journalists’ Act submitted their

reports on new scales of pay for journalists and other newspaper employees,

on December 31, 2010, recommending a modest increase in basic wages earned by

all categories of workers. G.R. Majithia, a retired high court judge, served as

chairman of both boards.


At an

earlier hearing of the petition in May 2011, the Supreme Court had directed the

Government of India to provide the Kolkata-based newspaper group with copies of

the two reports. The IFJ understands that the administrative ministry

responsible for carrying out this task failed to do as directed by the court.



observe that this lapse on the part of the Labour Ministry in the Government of

India has raised concerns among our affiliate unions about the sincerity of the

Government in providing a fair deal for journalists and other newspaper

employees,” IFJ Asia-Pacific

Director Jacqueline Park said.


“We call

upon the Government to dispel the doubts that have arisen without delay.”


The IFJ is

also concerned that there have been persistent efforts by the newspaper

industry to influence public opinion against the new wage awards. IFJ

affiliates in India

report that beginning in May, prominent newspapers have carried a number of

articles on the editorial and op-ed pages attacking the wage board proposals as

a mortal danger to the free press.



All-India Newspaper Employees’ Federation (AINEF), an IFJ affiliate, pointed

out in its June newsletter that the campaign, spearheaded by India’s largest media group the

Times of India, was carried out in violation of the basic norms of ethical

journalism, such as giving all affected parties – in this case, the unions –

the right of reply.


The IFJ’s

Indian affiliates have reminded the Indian Newspaper Society, the premier

industry-level association, that the constitutional validity of the wage board

process for fixing levels of employee compensation in the newspaper industry

was upheld by the Supreme Court as far back as 1958, in the case of Express

Newspapers vs Union of India.


The issue

then was not so much one of press freedom, but of the persistent refusal of the

newspaper industry to reveal its financial parameters, which made a fair

determination of its capacity to pay virtually impossible.



constraints have hobbled the functioning of the Majithia wage board. In remarks

that remained for the most part unreported in the Indian press, Justice Majithia

had commented in January that the newspaper industry had been less than

forthcoming in terms of providing needed information to his board.


“We are

concerned that the wage board features in the news agenda only when there is an

occasion for the newspaper industry to attack its functioning and findings,”

Park said.


“In the

interests of facing the twin crises of profitability and credibility in the

Indian newspaper industry, we urge owners and managements to shed their

aversion towards investing in quality journalism and ensure a fair deal for all

their employees.”



For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919



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