The International Federation of Journalists welcomes the resumption of broadcasts by the HBC FM radio station on September 24, after a prolonged break on account of a dispute between staffers and management over working conditions.
According to reports received from the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), an IFJ affiliate, the agreement leading to the resumption of broadcasts was signed by the representative of HBC chairman and the leader of the radio station’s staff union. FNJ secretary general Mahendra Bista was present at the signing.
The IFJ is heartened by the HBC management’s accession to the union demand that the new provisions of the Working Journalists Act be implemented, such as the issuing of letters of appointment to all journalists and employees effective from the date of their joining. This is the first time an employer in Nepal has signed an agreement to implement the Act.
The radio station management has also agreed to review staff salaries and to form a committee within a week to address other union demands.
Employees of HBC FM began their strike on August 7, after negotiations with the management on union demands failed to take off. Relations were further embittered when the chief advisor to the radio station, Mr Birendra Dahal began an indefinite hunger strike, ostensibly in defense of media freedom.
The IFJ had then endorsed the FNJ demand that Mr Dahal make the appropriate distinctions between legitimate trade union activity and threats to media freedom. The IFJ was dismayed that shortly after calling off his hunger strike and resuming his responsibilities at HBC FM, Mr Dahal embarked upon a mass sacking of staff.
“With the satisfactory resolution of this dispute, we hope that other media organisations in Nepal will begin to see their best interests in faithful adherence to the newly amended provisions of the Working Journalists’ Act,” said the IFJ’s Asia-Pacific Director, Jacqueline Park.
The IFJ, which fully supported the campaign to secure these amendments, congratulates the workers at HBC FM and extends its solidarity to the FNJ in its effort to see that they are implemented.