On March 9, workers at Geo News began a series of demonstrations in offices across the nation, displaying banners inside and outside their workplaces calling for the payment of outstanding wages, pay rises and greater benefits. Employees of the news outlet are demanding a 150 per cent increase in their salaries, and for Geo News to fulfil its obligations to provide gratuity and provident funds, fundamental retirement benefits under Pakistani law, for journalists and media workers.
A further protest was held against widespread underpayment from Geo News’ parent company JMG in Karachi on March 13. Workers from Geo News, The News International and other JMG publications held a protest alongside representatives and members of the Karachi Union of Journalists. On social media, workers from Geo News and News International spoke of widespread underpayment, with some workers not receiving salary payments from January.
Concerned workers have claimed that their salaries have failed to keep up with rising inflation amidst Pakistan’s economic crisis, causing many to struggle to make ends meet. The protesters have identified job insecurity as a significant issue, requesting management to increase the number of available permanent contracts. Employees from several JMG outlets have stressed the lack of fair compensation and benefits available compared to other workers in the media industry, with many workers failing to receive retirement saving schemes guaranteed under Pakistan’s labour laws.
Geo News and Jang Media Group have been criticised by Geo News staff and other media stakeholders for failing to address the concerns of their employees. Those demonstrating have stated they will continue protesting until their demands are met.
The PFUJ President GM Jamali and Secretary General Rana M Azeem said: “The right to fair wages and working conditions is a fundamental human right that should be upheld in all industries, including the media. Journalists and media workers play a crucial role in informing the public and holding those in power accountable, and their contributions should be recognised and valued"
The IFJ said: “Systemic underpayment, inadequate benefits and job insecurity are unacceptable issues which take a great toll on media workers, forcing many to pursue alternate careers. The IFJ calls on Jang Media Group and Geo News management to immediately address the important concerns raised by their employees and urges the Pakistani government to ensure the country’s labour laws are enforced throughout the media industry.”