Journalists at South Asia Meet Call for a New Deal on Wages and Working Conditions


Release: SAMSN


July 2013

The  eleventh annual meeting of the South Asia

Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) at Kathmandu, between July 21 and 23, takes

serious note of the continuing crisis of livelihoods for journalists and media workers

in all eight countries of South Asia.


seeks to be the common voice of journalists from South Asia. It represents all

regional affiliates of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in

coalition with journalists' organisations and press freedom partners working

for a free and fair media founded on sound and ethical journalism.


eleventh SAMSN meeting observes that despite statutory protections available in

Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan, the media industry’s compliance with the

legal obligations of decent wages and working conditions, remains dismal. Governments

have proven powerless in curbing these violations of the law. Neither incentive

schemes to improve compliance, nor punitive measures through the denial of

government advertisements, have proven effective.


observes with concern that the media industry has been increasingly shifting

towards contractual and ad hoc forms

of employment, putting journalistic autonomy and editorial freedom at serious

risk. This has allowed for an uncontrolled incursion of purely commercial

considerations in determining media content, culminating in the rampant abuse

of “paid news” that is now a matter of growing public concern in India.


reiterates its belief that there can be no good and bad contracts in

journalism, since this form of short-term and highly insecure employment is

designed with intent to divide journalists, increase disparities in

compensation between different tiers of media workers and undermine possibilities

of collective action for a fair deal.


notes that a committee of the Indian Parliament which inquired into the

practice of “paid news” has recommended the strengthening of statutory

protections available under the country’s Working Journalists’ Act as an

essential antidote for this abuse of public trust.


will seek to find resources to conduct a baseline survey on wages and working

conditions of journalists in all partner countries, as part of the effort to

seek an all-round improvement. Aside from the journalists who are on statutory

wage scales and those who are contract, SAMSN notes with alarm that the number

of media practitioners working with not even the minimum security of a letter

of appointment has been increasing rapidly.


Afghanistan, journalists are denied wages for months together and contracts are

written to minimise opportunities and choice, as by stipulating a cooling off

period between six months and a year for journalists seeking to change jobs.


notes that its partner organisations in Nepal have had some success through

petititoning the Supreme Court, specifically in ending the denial of minimum

statutory wages and employment security for employees of state-owned media.

SAMSN observes that Nepal has clauses in its Working Journalists’ Act which

require a fund being set up for skills development of journalists. Though Nepal

has the best law on paper, its record of implementation is as poor as



extends its support to its partner, the Maldives Journalists’ Association (MJA)

in its effort to ensure passage of a working journalists’ act before the

current term of its national parliament expires.


in Sri Lanka are now engaged in a campaign to secure an upward revision of the

minimum wages prescribed for journalists. SAMSN fully endorses this campaign

and calls for necessary protections for the right to form unions and

associations, guaranteed under Sri Lankan law but often denied in reality.


observes with satisfaction that the prolonged campaign of obstruction of the

Seventh Wage Award for Pakistan’s journalists and newspaper workers has been

ended by authoritative rulings from the Supreme Court. This has come a decade

too late, at precisely the time that an Eighth Wage Award should be coming into

force. SAMSN urges Pakistan’s newly constituted Wage Board for Journalists and

Other Newspaper Employees to address all procedural issues and arrive at a final

determination without undue delay.


deeply concerned that the Majithia Wage Board’s award for journalists and other

newspaper workers, determined in December 2010, continues to be blocked by the

Indian newspaper industry, which has yet again petitioned the Supreme Court on

grounds that have repeatedly been held invalid.

Despite conducting

two weeks of hearings on the matter in February 2013, the Supreme Court of

India in April, declined to issue a final judgment on the grounds that one

member of the two-judge bench that had heard the case, was soon to retire.

Hearings have since

commenced before a new bench. SAMSN urges the early disposal of the case in

line with established judicial precedent, followed by a serious effort by the

Indian government and all relevant state authorities to ensure its scrupulous


For further information

contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0918

The IFJ represents more

than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries


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