The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), in expressing outrage that the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) is claiming newspapers need government financial support, after nine years of newspaper owners failing to uphold the law and pay their employees a decent wage.
“All through the recent boom years of a rapidly expanding media industry in Pakistan, newspaper owners failed to abide by the law and pay their workers fairly. It is disingenuous for them now to say they cannot act in accordance with the law because the newspaper industry would be ruined if workers were fairly paid,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.
Pakistan’s newspaper owners have strenuously resisted implementing the Seventh Wage Award for newspaper employees since it came into force on July 1, 2000.
On May 30, APNES issued a statement claiming newspaper owners required government assistance to deal with financial difficulties.
Hundreds of “advertisements” have been placed in newspapers, including on their front pages, to claim that the newspaper industry would be ruined if the wage award was implemented.
According to PFUJ Secretary General Shamsul Islam Naz, the statement follows APNS securing billions of rupees worth of federal tax concessions and cuts in import duties on newsprint over the past nine years, on the understanding that newspaper owners would transfer the benefits by implementing the wage award. This had not happened, even as the industry expanded rapidly in the years preceding the global financial crisis.
Media owners had also raised rates for advertising placed by the federal and provincial governments and advertising agencies, as well as the price of their newspapers, while at the same time cutting the size of papers and increasing their cover price, the PFUJ said.
The IFJ joins the PFUJ in advising Pakistan’s Government that it demand APNS explain publicly why its members have been unable to fulfil their legal obligations to implement the wage award and assure their workers of legitimate benefits all during the boom years.
On June 1, the PFUJ urged the Government not to succumb to APNS pressure for a bailout package if newspapers continued to refuse to pay their workers fairly. It warned that if the Government continued to extend benefits to APNS, Pakistan’s journalists’ community would launch a country-wide movement against the Government’s action.
The IFJ is deeply concerned that Pakistan’s journalists and media workers can barely make a living, even as they are required to work in locations that are among the most dangerous in the world for media personnel.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries