International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is concerned at a petition filed
by a leading newspaper group in India’s
Supreme Court, arguing that the recent wage award for journalists and other
newspaper employees, violates the fundamental rights provisions of the Indian
the petition filed by the Kolkata-based Ananda Bazar Patrika newspaper group on
July 18, India’s
Supreme Court directed that the long delayed wage award be kept in abeyance
till the matter is finally determined.
Wage Boards constituted under India’s
Working Journalists’ Act submitted their
reports on new scales of pay for journalists and other newspaper employees,
on December 31, 2010, recommending a modest increase in basic wages earned by
all categories of workers. G.R. Majithia, a retired high court judge, served as
chairman of both boards.
earlier hearing of the petition in May 2011, the Supreme Court had directed the
Government of India to provide the Kolkata-based newspaper group with copies of
the two reports. The IFJ understands that the administrative ministry
responsible for carrying out this task failed to do as directed by the court.
observe that this lapse on the part of the Labour Ministry in the Government of
India has raised concerns among our affiliate unions about the sincerity of the
Government in providing a fair deal for journalists and other newspaper
employees,” IFJ Asia-Pacific
Director Jacqueline Park said.
upon the Government to dispel the doubts that have arisen without delay.”
The IFJ is
also concerned that there have been persistent efforts by the newspaper
industry to influence public opinion against the new wage awards. IFJ
affiliates in India
report that beginning in May, prominent newspapers have carried a number of
articles on the editorial and op-ed pages attacking the wage board proposals as
a mortal danger to the free press.
All-India Newspaper Employees’ Federation (AINEF), an IFJ affiliate, pointed
out in its June newsletter that the campaign, spearheaded by India’s largest media group the
Times of India, was carried out in violation of the basic norms of ethical
journalism, such as giving all affected parties – in this case, the unions –
the right of reply.
Indian affiliates have reminded the Indian Newspaper Society, the premier
industry-level association, that the constitutional validity of the wage board
process for fixing levels of employee compensation in the newspaper industry
was upheld by the Supreme Court as far back as 1958, in the case of Express
Newspapers vs Union of India.
then was not so much one of press freedom, but of the persistent refusal of the
newspaper industry to reveal its financial parameters, which made a fair
determination of its capacity to pay virtually impossible.
constraints have hobbled the functioning of the Majithia wage board. In remarks
that remained for the most part unreported in the Indian press, Justice Majithia
had commented in January that the newspaper industry had been less than
forthcoming in terms of providing needed information to his board.
concerned that the wage board features in the news agenda only when there is an
occasion for the newspaper industry to attack its functioning and findings,”
interests of facing the twin crises of profitability and credibility in the
Indian newspaper industry, we urge owners and managements to shed their
aversion towards investing in quality journalism and ensure a fair deal for all
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries
IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific
IFJ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific