The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has today blamed callous management at Channel-5, a private TV station in Pakistan, which contributed to the death of a cameraman who killed himself after his employer refused to pay his salary.
According to the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalist (PFUJ), an IFJ affiliate, Mohammad Azam Khan, 26, who worked as a cameraman for Channel-5 in Lahore had not been paid for four months, like all other staff at the station.
On 2 December, he went to the office to request payment but was turned away. He returned home and later took his own life. It was the same day his sister was getting married and he was in urgent need of his wages as the only breadwinner among nine siblings.
"This tragedy reflects the criminal nature of modern media in some parts of the world -- ruthless in their competitive urge, they become immune to the human cost of their negligence," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary.
"In Pakistan and some other countries we see a new breed of private broadcasters who have nothing but contempt for international labour standards and no respect for the rights of their staff. It is indecent and irresponsible. If these people cannot pay their way they should be run out of the industry."
The late or non-payment of salaries is a common problem for print and electronic media employees in Pakistan.
The Punjab Union of Journalists, an affiliate of the PFUJ, appealed to senior journalists and national and international unions to work together to solve this problem before a similar tragedy occurs.
The PFUJ and the All Pakistan Newspapers Employee Confederation ( APNEC) have called on the Punjab government to prosecute the owners of the Channel-5 for their responsibility in Azam's suicide.
The IFJ and the PFUJ are also calling on all media employers to denounce rogue employment practices and to ensure fair and decent treatment of all journalists and media staff in Pakistan.
The PFUJ and the APNEC held demonstrations today in different cities and more are planned tomorrow to condemn Azam's tragic death, the sacking of hundreds of journalists from newspapers and private television stations and the abolition of employment contracts. They also demand that the Government act on its promise to enforce the implementation of the long-stalled Seventh Wage Award.
For more information contact the IFJ at + 32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 123 countries worldwide