19 December 2006
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today welcomed the announcement by the government of India that it will set up wage boards for newspaper employees, which will provide a nationally negotiated agreement on wages and working conditions for the country’s media staff.
“This announcement is a good start to setting fair and equitable standards for journalists and other newspaper staff in India and hopefully will lead to better employment conditions for all media workers in the country,” said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White.
The decision came after the country’s three major journalists groups – the Indian Journalists’ Union, the National Union of Journalists, India and the All India Newspaper Employees Federation –formed a confederation to demand that the government made good on promises to re-launch the country’s wage board system.
The IFJ had supported the confederation’s efforts to institute the wage board system. The group held recent demonstrations and protests in major cities across India to press for the demand in the face of the rapid growth of personal contracts, which are being used by media employers to weaken journalists’ rights at work.
“For three years the government has been saying it would tackle a growing media employment crisis,” White said, “as media companies forced employees to accept vulnerable labour conditions with ‘take it or leave it’ contracts and in the process they are denying international labour standards and sending standards of journalism into freefall.”
With such uncertain labour conditions, journalists were not able to fully exercise their rights to report independently and press freedom has been suffering. The IFJ believes the re-institution of the wage boards will improve labour conditions and the quality of media in the country.
Two months ago the IFJ wrote to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh calling on the government to prepare a strategic plan for the development of India’s media.
On Monday India’s Union Cabinet decided to set up two wage boards. One will cover working journalists and the other will cover non-journalist newspaper employees. The two wage boards are to submit their reports within a period of three years.
“We are calling on the wage boards to act quickly to set fair and equitable standards for labour conditions for journalists and non-editorial newspaper staff, which will give a vital boost to India’s media industry,” White said.
For more information contact the IFJ at 32 2 235 2200
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries worldwide