The International Federation of
Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of
Journalists (PFUJ), in expressing outrage that the All Pakistan Newspapers
Society (APNS) is claiming newspapers need government financial support, after
nine years of newspaper owners failing to uphold the law and pay their employees
a decent wage.
“All through the recent boom years of
a rapidly expanding media industry in Pakistan, newspaper owners failed
to abide by the law and pay their workers fairly. It is disingenuous for them now
to say they cannot act in accordance with the law because the newspaper
industry would be ruined if workers were fairly paid,” IFJ General
Secretary Aidan White said.
Pakistan’s newspaper owners have strenuously
resisted implementing the Seventh Wage Award for newspaper employees since it came
into force on July 1, 2000.
On May 30, APNES issued a statement claiming
newspaper owners required government assistance to deal with financial difficulties.
Hundreds of “advertisements” have been
placed in newspapers, including on their front pages, to claim that the newspaper
industry would be ruined if the wage award was implemented.
According to PFUJ Secretary General Shamsul
Islam Naz, the statement follows APNS securing billions of rupees worth of federal
tax concessions and cuts in import duties on newsprint over the past nine
years, on the understanding that newspaper owners would transfer the benefits
by implementing the wage award. This had not happened, even as the industry
expanded rapidly in the years preceding the global financial crisis.
Media owners had also raised rates
for advertising placed by the federal and provincial governments and advertising
agencies, as well as the price of their newspapers, while at the same time cutting
the size of papers and increasing their cover price, the PFUJ said.
The IFJ joins the PFUJ in advising Pakistan’s Government
that it demand APNS explain publicly why its members have been unable to fulfil
their legal obligations to implement the wage award and assure their workers of
legitimate benefits all during the boom years.
On June 1, the PFUJ urged the Government
not to succumb to APNS pressure for a bailout package if newspapers continued to
refuse to pay their workers fairly. It warned that if the Government continued
to extend benefits to APNS, Pakistan’s
journalists’ community would launch a country-wide movement against the Government’s
The IFJ is deeply concerned that Pakistan’s journalists
and media workers can barely make a living, even as they are required to work
in locations that are among the most dangerous in the world for media personnel.
further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries