Seven years after the promised implementation of the Seventh Wage Award for Pakistani journalists, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has again called for action from the Pakistan government to address the dreadful working conditions journalists face.
An IFJ affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), and the All Pakistan Newspaper Employees Confederation (APNEC) announced on January 4 their threat to boycott the National Assembly’s sitting, in protest of the Pakistan government’s repeated failure to respect the unanimous resolutions passed in favour of the Award, as well as the government’s unfulfilled promises for its implementation.
“Pakistani journalists are underpaid, overworked and operate in unsafe environments, and the implementation of the Seventh Wage Award is a vital step in the right direction to ensure the proper entitlements and working conditions for journalists are realised,” IFJ President Christopher Warren said.
“The IFJ gives its full support to the PFUJ in their protest, and sends a message of solidarity to all those who have refused to give up the fight to see this award implemented,” Warren said.
According to the PFUJ, similar boycotts of the Senate and Provincial Assemblies would also be conducted upon their next sittings.
The IFJ, as the organisation representing more than 500,000 journalists in over 115 countries, has campaigned for the instatement of the Award alongside the PFUJ and other unions since the initial promise of the award in 2000.
The PFUJ highlighted the most recent unfulfilled promise from the federal information minister, Mohammed Ali Durrani, when he told over 100 media workers at a meeting in Karachi that the Seventh Wage Award would be implemented before Eidul Fitr, the end of Ramadan.
This followed Prime Minister Shoukat Aziz’s assurance to a delegation of the PFUJ and APNEC in October 2005 of the pending implementation of the award, as well as similar assurances made by information ministers throughout the seven-year period.
Alongside personal assurances, two unanimous resolutions for the implementation of the Award were passed by the present parliament in the last four years, in both the National Assembly and Senate, in addition to further unanimous resolutions passed by Provincial Assemblies and Federal and Provincial Cabinets, the PFUJ said.
Furthermore, according to the PFUJ, while the government has provided valuable concessions and lucrative advertising contracts to newspaper owners, and bowed to the demands of the newspaper owners’ body, ANPS, the Seventh Wage Award, which guarantees equal and fair rights for journalists, has been ignored.
“While government figureheads continue to make empty promises to the journalists of Pakistan, the President, General Pervez Musharraf, has stood mute on this issue,” Warren said.
“While the award sits in waiting, journalists throughout Pakistan continue to suffer from a raft of injustices, including job instability, inadequate wages, and a lack of medical support, all of which mean that journalists’ struggle every day under the non-implementation of the wage award,” he said.
““It is now time for the Pakistan government to address their ongoing failure to safeguard the rights of journalists and fulfill their duty by implementing the long overdue Seventh Wage Award,” he said.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific +61 2 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 115 countries