The International Federation of Journalists
(IFJ) welcomes the submission of the reports of the two boards constituted under
India's Working Journalists Act for fixation of wages for journalists and other
Justice G.R. Majithia, chairperson of both
boards, accompanied by other members, submitted the two final reports to the
Indian Government's Ministry of Labour on December 31.
Unions that have studied the boards'
recommendations report that they involve an increase of between 2.5 and 3 times
in the basic wages earned by journalists and other newspaper workers. If
current basic wage, dearness allowance and interim relief earlier granted by
the wage boards were to be aggregated, the magnitude of the increase would be
Under the wage board recommendations, working
journalists in the highest class of newspaper establishment, comprising companies
with gross annual revenues of more than Indian rupees (INR) 10 billion would
have basic monthly wages ranging from INR 13,000 to 25,000 and other newspaper
staff, between INR 9,000 and 17,500. The basic wage would be augmented by a
partial compensation for inflation (dearness allowance) and a house rent
allowance. Workers in especially challenging environments would be eligible for
a "hardship allowance". A "night-shift allowance" and "transport allowance"
have also been proposed.
An immediate problem that unions have
identified is that the wage scales are highly compressed, i.e., a newspaper
employee with around seven years of
service at a given level would very soon reach the top of his scale, after
which he would face the prospect of wage stagnation. It would have in the
unions' estimation, been more fair to have a stretched out wage scale with a
wide range between the top and bottom levels.
"One stark shortcoming of the award is
that it ignores the fact that many employees will reach the ceiling of the new
scales as soon as they come into force," said M.L. Talwar, General Secretary of
the All-India Newspaper Employees' Federation. "The award is good for beginners
but very few fresh recruits are joining on the statutory wage scales these
days. Most are being hired on short-term contracts where the wage board award
is not applicable."
The report has also made some suggestions for
further consideration by the government, on matters such as retirement benefits
and promotion policy. A standing body that will deal with issues between
newspaper managements and employees has been proposed, as also numerous
measures to improve the implementation of the wage award.
India's main trade unions, including the three
IFJ affiliates - the Indian Journalists' Union, the All-India Newspaper
Employees' Federation and the National Union of Journalists (India) - were
represented on the wage boards.
They coordinated their strategies with other
unions under the umbrella of the Confederation of Newspapers and News Agencies
Union representatives have expressed mixed
sentiments about the quality of the award and retain some reservations that
certain crucial issues were decided without a vote among the membership of the
"We call for a wide-ranging debate on these
recommendations and necessary improvements before implementation," said the IFJ
"Above all, we call for effective measures to
ensure universal compliance with the wage award among all newspaper
establishments in India."
further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
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