Majithia Wage Board Recommendations : legal issues and remedies

( File Photo Umesh Sharma Advocate )

The Working Journalists and Other Newspaper Employees (Conditions of Service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1955 was enacted keeping in view the unique status of the Forth Estate of Indian democracy and to insulate journalists from any kind of exploitation by their employers which is a sin qua non for a free and independent press. It served its purposes in the initial years after its implementation but after the advent of the global marketing media, it lost its relevance and now is practically a dead letter as the Central Government routinely appoints a Wage Board after some hue and cry by the working journalist.

The wage board submits its report after several years which is accepted and notified by the Central Government with some riders thereafter the newspaper managements start inventing ways and means to avoid the liability arising out of the recommendations. Several rounds of litigation takes place which is finally taken up to Supreme Court. Finally when the implementation in eminent, the news paper establishments take the plea of financial burden and create a dead lock. The community of working journalists is also not so enthusiastic in implementation of the wage board recommendations and the matter becomes only an important subject for protests, seminars, and speeches. The real beneficiaries for whom the wage board recommendations are made seldom get any benefit in time. Keeping all that aside we find that there is a lot of scope for the working journalists to take legal remedies if the newspaper establishment is not releasing the benefits. We have tried to discuss in brief the ways and means to claim the said benefits from the employers.

Section 9 of the said Act empowers the Central Government to constitute a Wage Board for determing the service conditions and wages for the newspaper employees. Section 10 of the said Act deals with the recommendations of the Wage Board constituted by the central Government and Section 12 of the said Act empowers the Central Government to enforce the recommendations of the Wage Boards. A combined reading of all these provisions make it crystal clear that the management of the newspaper establishments have no choice then to pay the benefits recommended by the Wage Board which has a statutory force and the employer cannot escape the same under any circumstances.

The latest Wage Board was appointed by the Central Government in May, 2007 commonly called as Majithia Wage Board submitted its recommendations to the Central Government after hearing all the parties and holding several rounds of hearings and deliberations. Its recommendations were accepted by the Central Government on 25/10/2011 and were notified on 11/11/2011 in the official gazette thereby giving it a statutory force. The employers in the meanwhile had approached the Supreme Court raising several objections against the recommendations of the Wage Board and the matter remained pending before the Supreme Court for decision. Dust was however cleared by Supreme Court vide its detailed judgment dated 7/2/2014 when all the writ petitions filed by the employers were dismissed and following observations were made by the Supreme Court in the operating part of the judgment:

    “71) Accordingly, we hold that the recommendations of the Wage Boards are valid in law, based on genuine and acceptable considerations and there is no valid ground for interference under Article 32 of the Constitution of India.

    72) Consequently, all the writ petitions are dismissed with no order as to costs.

    73) In view of our conclusion and dismissal of all the writ petitions, the wages as revised/determined shall be payable from 11.11.2011 when the Government of India notified the recommendations of the Majithia Wage Boards. All the arrears up to March, 2014 shall be paid to all eligible persons in four equal installments within a period of one year from today and continue to pay the revised wages from April, 2014 onwards.

    74) In view of the disposal of the writ petitions, the contempt petition is closed.”

A plain reading of the said judgment of Supreme Court clarifies that the employees of the news papers are entitled to the recommendations of the Majithia Wage Board from the date of its notification i.e. 11/11/2011, the managements are liable to pay the entitlement to the employees upto March, 2014 in four equal installments and continue to pay the revised wages /benefits from April, 2014 onwards.

It is sad to observe that most of the newspaper establishments have not complied with the directions issued by the Supreme Court till date. They have not released the arrears of the dues nor have they implemented the same w.e.f. April, 2014 on its employees. Most of the employ’s representative bodies of the newspapers employees are making a hue and cry but the benefits are still a distant dream for most of the employees working in newspaper establishment. The newspaper managements are willfully, deliberately violating the directions of the Supreme Court. It’s a paradox that the community which makes the general people aware of their rights is unable to secure its own rights.

ISSUES RELATED TO IMPLEMENTATION OF THE WAGE BOARD RECOMMENDATIONS:

i) Wage board recommendations cover all news paper establishments, news agencies, all establishments associated with news paper establishments ( even the sister concerns of news paper establishments).

ii) All employees including working journalists, non-journalists, and administrative staff of news paper establishments are entitled to benefits of wage board recommendations.

iii) The nomenclature of the posts and nature of duties are defined under wage board recommendations, based on which the entitlement of the employee concerned is to be fixed. Nomenclature of post is not the sole basis of classification; determinative factors are nature of duties of employee.

iv) The employee concerned can directly file an application under Section 17 (1) of the The Working Journalists and Other Newspaper Employees ( Conditions of Service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1955 for recovery of his dues based on the recommendations of the wage boards. He is entitled to all the benefits from the date of notification of wage board recommendations i.e. 11/11/11 and he can claim interest on the unpaid amount in the application.

v) Application under Section 17 (1) of the The Working Journalists and Other Newspaper Employees ( Conditions of Service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1955 is very simple and can be filed before the concerned Assistant Labour Commissioner for issuance of recovery certificate directly. Please be clear on it as no reference to the courts is required in this case as the claim is based on the statutory notification of the Central Government and the amount is due under the statutory wage board recommendations which stands accepted and notified.

vi) One can approach the High Court against any delay, irregularity by the Labour Authorities in the matter under the influence of managements. No direct petition to High Court can be however filed in the matter.

vii) One application can contain claims of several employees however for better and effective handling it is advisable to file separate application for each employee in one bunch.

viii) No advance notice to the employer is required however it is advised that a notice of demand be given to the employer before filing the application.

ix) No lawyer is required for filing and handling such application generally as it is a summary process.

x) In the present scenario, the managements are also committing contempt of the orders dated 7/2/2014 passed by the Supreme Court hence contempt petition can also be filed before the Supreme Court by the willing organizations or employees.

xi) The claims of retired employees after 11/11/11 also remain alive and can be pursued even by their LRs even after their death.


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Umesh Sharma

Advocate

Practicing in Delhi High Court and Supreme Court of India. Besides handling civil and criminal matters, he has experience of representing newspaper employees before all courts. Has also participated in Wage Board proceedings on behalf of newspaper employees. He can be contacted at: 112, New Delhi House,  27, Bara Khambha Road, Connaught Place, New Delhi

Phone: 011-2335 5388

Email: legalhelplineindia@gmail.com

Website: www.legalhelplineindia.com

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Comments on “Majithia Wage Board Recommendations : legal issues and remedies

  • sanjay rawat says:

    अरे अपनी अंग्रेजी में पकड़ नहीं है मित्रो, और ये लेख बताता है कि यसवंत सब जल्दबाजी में कर रहे हैं

    Reply
  • सारी बातों के बीच अहमदाबाद से शुभ समाचार यह है की कल 8.10.14 की सुनवाई में हाईकोर्ट ने स्पष्ट कर दीया है ..यह केस लेबरकोर्ट मे नहीं चलेगा परंतु हाईकोर्ट में ही चलेगा क्योंकी यह केस फोजदारी,सुप्रिम की अवमानना ओर अार्थिक गोटाले का है और भास्कर मेनेजमेन्ट 14 दीवस में इस फैसले के खिलाफ कोर्ट में जा सकता है। 2- इस केस का अभ्यास करते हुए कोर्ट ने यह कहा है की मजीठीया मांगने के कारण प्रशांत दयाल और उनकी टीम पर कंपनी ने द्वेषपूर्ण भाव से सबका तबादला कीया है। कोर्ट ने इस वर्ष मे हुए सभी तबादलोंकी सूची के साथ उसके कारण तथा पोजीशन का ब्योरा मांगा है। हां चुंकी कोर्ट ने तबदले पर प्रशांत या कीसी को स्टे नहीं दीया ……..जो भी है प्रथम चरण हमारे तरफ है अाशा बन रही है अच्छे दिन अाने वाले है। यह समाचार अधिक से अधिक लोगों तक पहुंचाए और हिंमत बढ़ाए। मैं अहमदाबाद दिव्य भास्कर का ही पुराना कर्मचारी हुं।

    Reply
  • Kashinath Matale says:

    THNAKS ADV. UMESH SHARMAJI AND BHADAS4MEDIA FOR WRITING ABOUT MAJITHIA WAGE BOARD FOR JOURNALIST AND NON-JOURNALISTS IN NEWS PAPERS AND NEWS AGENCIES.
    SIR MANY NEWS PAPER EMPLOYERS IMPLEMENTED THE WAGE BOARD, BUT WITH THEIR (AS PER DIRECTION OF INS-INIDAN NEWS PAPER SOCIETY) OWN WAY.
    DUE TO THIS IMPROPER WAY OF IMPLEMENTATION, WAGES NOT INCREASED AS EXPECTED.
    SC ORDER PARA 73) … the wages as revised/determined shall be payable from 11.11.2011 when the Government of India notified the recommendations of the Majithia Wage Boards.
    THE WAGES REVISED ON 1-7-2010 AND THIS REVISED WAGES SHALL BE PAYABLE FROM 11-11-2011.
    IN OUR ORGANISATION MANAGEMENT SHOWING THE CIRCULAR OF INS AND SAID THAT THEY DONE THE PROCESS OF FIXATION/FITMENT AS PER INTERPRETATION BY INS. THEY DID NOT SUPPLY US THE SAID CIRCULAR.
    AS PER THIS MANAGEMENT DID NOT PROTECT THE EXISTING EMOLUMENTS, DID NOT GAVE SERVICE INCREMENT (MAX. 3), DID NOT GIVING ANNUAL SERVICE INCREMENT, THEY CALCULATE THE DA FOR THE CPI 189 POINTS INSTEAD OF 167 POINTS AS PER NOTIFICATION. BY THIS WAY WE GETTING LESS DA FOR THE POINTS OF 22. WE WANT DA FOR THE POINTS OF 73 (240-167), BUT THEY GIVING THE DA OF 51 POINTS (240-187 AS PER INS CIRCULAR).
    DEAR SIR WE WANT YOU OPINION ONO THIS PARTICULARLY ON DA POINTS.
    THANKS !!.
    K MATALE. Email… kgmmatale@gmail.com

    Reply
  • KASTURI & SONS Publishers of The Hindu have not Implemented Wage Board for Administrative Staff. They say definition of Non Journalist excluded Admin Staff.
    Please Suggest measure. around 1000++ staff affected

    Reply
  • Sir, Your article states ” Application under Section 17 (1) of the The Working Journalists and Other Newspaper Employees ( Conditions of Service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1955 is very simple and can be filed before the concerned Assistant Labour Commissioner for issuance of recovery certificate directly.” But I have a letter from LC, Chennai which states the following: With reference to your complaints cited, it is informed that the newspaper establishments are legally bound to implement the recommendations of the MWB. If your management has followed a different calculation for DA which has caused variation in the DA eligible for you as per the recommendations of the MWB, you may file a claim petition for the difference amount payable as wages due, before the respective Labour Court and seek remedy.” Need I have to seek Court or am I eligible for Recovery Certificate from Lab Commr as is mentioned by you. My case is company not following Gazette Notified DA formula and following a different formula which has has been causing me 18% less DA every month which comes to Rs 5,200. Pl clarify.

    Reply
  • Harishchandra says:

    when the supreme court is aware that its own judgment is not respected duly why not a suo moto case be taken by them ?its a strange situation where the law had made it clear that all person of newspaper establishments be paid as per MWB recommendations .How is that for some strange reason of convenience of the management the same be unimplemented .crudely in a institution ( The Hindu) they have not only implemented the WB but have brought another structure to create a feeling among employees as it is at par with Wage board .But in reality the said structure is way behind the wage board in all aspects .A simple case in a court will unmask the Management

    Reply
  • Friends, The following is the answer I got from advocate Mr Umesh Sharma on my query on Recovery Certificate under Sec 17(1) of Working Journalists Act 1955:

    “If your calculation is based upon the notification then the LC has to issue the RC.Please take up this issue with the LC, make a detailed representation. If not satisfied, approach the High Court concerned for issuance of a writ of Mandamus.” – Umesh Sharma

    Reply
  • One simple argument every employee fighting for proper DA under Gazette notified formula should put forth before his/her employer is this:

    Sir, We are ready to accept your 189, 200, 232 or whatever DIVISOR formula you want to follow to reduce DA, provided you get it Notified as amended Gazette.

    Till such time please pay us whatever that is due to us under Gazette Notified 167 DIVISOR formula which is the result of Tripartite Agreement wherein you have also vouched your acceptance.

    It is high time either the Supreme Court or the Labour and Employment Minister suo motu take notice of this gross violation and do something urgent as DA is one common thing that unites all people coming under MWB recommendations.

    DA formula should be same for all the 40,000 workers under MWB, irrespective of Category, Class and Designation. It can’t be one formula for one organisation and a totally different formula for another organisation.

    Dearness Allowance formula (for 40,000 workers under MWB) is like our INDIAN identify which is common for all INDIANS irrespective caste, creed, financial status, etc.

    Reply
  • With reference to Dearness Allowance calculation under Majithia Wage Board, many journalists and non-journalists keep on asking me what is the stand of Indian Federation of Working Journalists in this regard. This is to help them know the IFWJ stand on this. IFWJ is firmly committed to implementation of DA under MWB-recommended 167 BASE and DIVISOR formula.
    K. Vishwadev Rao, In-charge, Social Media Cell (IFWJ), in his write-up on Dainik Jagran’s anti-labour activities writes: “….What is highly intriguing and deplorable is that the management has denied the applicable Dearness Allowance to the employees. The Dearness Allowance index was, in November 2011, 184 points but the same has not been calculated and thereby the management is pocketing thousands of rupees of every employee every month…” (Source: IFWJ Facebook page).
    The said 184 is the 12-month average of AICPI-IW from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011. This means, workers are eligible for 10.18% of BASIC PAY as DA on Nov 11, 2011. Formula is: 184 minus 167 result multiplied by the basic pay and the result divided by 167.
    Hence, there is no question of starting DA at Rs 0 on Nov 11, 2011, unless and otherwise BASIC PAY is also changed upwardly accordingly.

    Reply
  • Kasturi and sons has not implemented Majithia Wage Board for all the admin staff quoting the 1955 act. Though we have been designated as officers we are not been empowered to do any administrative work nor supervisory work. We are all doing clerical work only and we have been designated as officers because of service only. Please advise us whether we fall under the administrative category as the management says that we are not eligible for wage board.

    Reply

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