New Delhi, 11 October, A massive demonstration was held here yesterday at Jantar Mantar by all major trade union bodies of the media employees under the banner of Confederation of Newspapers and News agencies Employees Organisation. Hundreds of media workers from all over the country participated in the demonstration which included the far-flung states like; Assam, Tamilnadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir. Other states which took part in the demonstration were West Bengal, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Chandigarh, Haryana and Rajasthan.
The main demand of the demonstrators was to save the Working Journalists Act and to include the employees of Audio-visual and Web Portals in its ambit by retaining the beneficial provisions of the existing act. The media employees across the country are agitated over the proposed move of the government to repeal the Working Journalists Act by amalgamating it with other 11 unrelated acts. It has been renamed as the Code on the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions. Strangely, the government has taken this decision unilaterally without consulting or seeking the opinions of the stakeholders.
Although, the Union Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar has assured the delegation of the media employees, which met him last week that their interests will be well taken care of, yet the apprehensions are still lingering because the Acts, which have been subsumed in the Code, are as different as chalk from cheese.
The media employees also demanded that they must be given the benefits of the ID Act which are available to them under the existing Act. The other demands, which were very vociferously raised were the immediate constitution of the Wage Board and implementation of the Majithia recommendations. The major unions which participated in the demonstrations were All India Newspaper Employees Federation, Indian Federation of Working Journalists, National Federation of Newspaper Employees, All India Federation of PTI Employees Unions, NUJ (I) and IJU. The plant-level unions of the Hindustan Times, Assam Tribune, Tribune Chandigarh, Indian Express, Times of India and Punjab Kesari also took part in the demonstration. Busloads of employees came from Chandigarh under the leadership of Anil Kumar Gupta, who is also the President of the Tribune Employees Union.
Among others who spoke on the occasion were Parmanand Pandey, IFWJ, M S Yadav of the Confederation and PTI, Sabina Interjeet, S.N. Sinha IJU, Ashok Mailk, Pragyanand Chaudhary NUJ (I), Shyam Babu NFNE, Bhuvan Chaube PTI, M.L. Joshi UNI, G Bhopathi AINF, CS Naidu Indian Express and Anil Gupta of the Tribune Employees Union.
The meeting was conducted very successfully by Hemant Tiwari, the Vice President of the IFWJ, who made many important announcements during his address to the gathering. He kept all the protesters spelled bound by his inimitable style. He declared that a big meeting of the Confederation will be held soon either in Shimla or Chandigarh. The meeting was presided over by the Confederation’s General Secretary M.S. Yadav, who outlined the future shape of struggle by the media employees.
A large number of television channels and their employees were also present to express their solidarity with the Confederation. Among the important audio-visual journalists who were present on the occasion were Niraj Pandey, Ashok Tiwari, Ramesh Thakur, Yogesh Soni and Rinku Yadav. This was the first huge demonstration of the media employees in the last decade.
A. S. Negi