Edit Page Article “Muzzling The Media”

: TOI Newspaper Employees Union Patna Responds to BCCL CEO Dhariwal’s article : It was indeed a great event in the history of journalism to find the CEO of  Bennett, Coleman & Co –no less—to take up the cudgel on behalf of journalists while finding Statutory Wage Board  as a throwback to” license-permit raj” era tool to “manipulate” the newspaper business “fettering the freedom granted to media by Constitution”.

But the debatable point is  are the journalist complaining. Going by the trend witnessed not in distant past, journalists have no reason to claim that their Right To Information  and  Report has ever been target of attack by government and in fact the latter had been hapless target of media. As regards government control on the salary of mediamen is limited to receiving the recommendation and accepting or moderating the recommendation of an ex-Supreme or High Court judge. Here journalists can definitely complain against internal censorship or paid news phenomenon.

But, Mr Dhariwal, writing on wall is that Wage Boards can not be wished away : they have existed since 1966 or 1968 and will be constituted unless and until Working Journalists Act is held to be ultra vires. Even if government does not wish as per the whimsical and ill-advised declaration of  Mr  Ravindra  Verma, it can be forced through PIL or writ. It is not legally simple and so are the Recommendations of all Wage Board. The only thing that is required is “steely resolve” on the part of workers or union thereof. Not a single word of Wage Board Recommendations can be wished away and sooner or later every single rupee not given can be recouped with lot of penalty. Any day it can be invoked against any erring management.

When management of a newspaper establishment refers to Constitutiom and crying wolf on Freedom of Press and whining over imaginary un-viability of Press, one gets a dirty feeling that it is soon going to court against some order of the government, like for example the Majithia Wage Board Recommendations. Even for argument sake it is admitted that it has suggested 80% wage increase, would you in the name of fair play compare the hike that your own organizations gave to its contractual workers. Then you did not complain against un-viability of Press because of  “high entry level wages of workmen”.

Should we read, Mr Dhariwal, workmen as Wage Board employees only whereas there is no upper limit for contractual workers.  In case you suggest that Wage Board employees lacking in “skills and professional qualification” you will have to do a lot of home work to discount the fact that in your own organization a Triple MA has gone without promotion since 1987 and  a Tripple Patent-holder with certification of global originality by GOI is in journalistic wilderness.

As there exists no direct Line of Communication between union and the Management in your own organization, recourse is being taken to alternate media like the one being used so that better sense and wisdom prevails upon him in case he goes through all this written here — if at all brought to his notice — prior to judicial orders like the one below or being planned takes  him by surprise or with shock as “legal absolutism” seems stacked up  around or against his organization he has been called upon to head.

Mr Dhariwal should know that gone are the days when the preceding chairman of the company he now heads (late Mr Ashok Jain) used to break one-month strike with scotch on rocks. Now his company hates bonafide Trade Union activities and whenever any employee raises any point  of law, his  companies find devious ways like malafide transfer or supercession to get him out. They have shown the abominable inclination to hunt down its employee by issuing false and frivolous show causes and build up the file for future malafide use.

No wonder this ends up provoking “steely perseverance” on the part of workers or its union, as a top functionary of Bihar Government recently pointed out, which is sooner or later bound to create lot of problems through the hands of judiciary. Lest Mr Dhariwal does not appear to be crying wolves or shedding crocodile tears over the plight of Freedom of Press, it would certainly have been nicer, more fair and certainly ethical or just if he had looked within his own organization and had been aware of magnitude of crimes committed by organization he has called upon to lead especially the one that by blocking the payment of Right Wages to worker running in crores on the fictitious ground of being different all the accused managements made pots of money by way of misusing judicial hard process. As such legal tricks were followed by the primary employer company at all its 7 or so other Establishments across the country the money literally defalcated from the workers would run in crores and money made there from would no money becomes inevitable for any court to consider.

Has Mr Dhariwal been briefed about the following paragraph of the Patna High Court order which not only brings out the crux of the matter by neatly summing up the whole case but sends all the managements up for “instant prosecution” while picking big holes in their whole argument of “different companies” as not only being bogus-hollow but also false and frivolous which is evident right from the face of Patna High Court order dated 11.08.2010.

The above materials are prima facie sufficient to establish that all the three establishments under names and style (1) M/s Times Publishing House Ltd., M/s Pearl Printwell Ltd. and M/s Excel Publishing House Ltd. are the Units of one establishment M/s Bennet Coleman & Co. Ltd., having different names for internal convenience. The aforesaid High Court’s order is essentially a batch or composite order on following Writs separately filed by aforesaid companies: Cr. Misc  12876/2004, Cr. Misc 14046/2004, Cr. Misc 14344/2004, Cr. Misc 14624/2004) which were all rejected by High Court “without any merit”.

I would also like to assure Mr Dhariwal that if he cares to go through last Manisana Wage Board Recommendations he would surely find that it also has a unification clause of its own. It would not be necessary to clarify here that M/S Bennett, Coleman & Company happens to be the primary employer being the owner and publisher of brand “The Times of India” all over India and  operates through many other companies as committed ancillary or auxillary units of the former company. Mr Dhariwal may please be kind to let me correct your vision of Statutory Wage Board Award : it is in fact a Statutory Tripartite Wage Board Award which means the  company you have been called upon to head was a party to its hearing right since 1966.

As such BCCL had the sole or singular duty to implement Statutory Tripartite Wage Board Award uniformly all over its Establishments, especially when it was heard and reheard by the Wage Board authorities on the strength of Mumbai HC order, Being committed ancillary unit of their primary employer other companies do not have separate existence neither in the eye of aforesaid Award nor in law: they are just supposed to toe the line followed by their employer company: i.e. FACE THE TRIAL after the recent Patna High Court order. I would also like to attract the kind attention of new CEO of a so-called leader of newspaper establishments to another paragraph of the Patna High Court order which reads as hereunder: …The trial court without being restricted to the order taking cognizance for a particular offence, if find fit, may proceed with trial for other offences also if made out after framing proper charge.

This indeed would embolden the plant union to enumerate all other criminal acts of omission and commission perpetrated by the primary employer company in criminal conspiracy with its committed ancillary units to cheat and dodge an  “award of national importance  – to borrow the words of Patna High Court — while committing crimes bordering on felony, one after the other, like violations of ID Act/ Factory Act/W.J.Act/TU Act/PF Act, cheating workers, using workers money to make money for themselves, causing financial or mental injury to workers, denying Right To Equality, denying promotions for decades, denying Right To Livelihood, denying Right To Work, disturbing Right To Religion, breakdown of Labour laws, refusing cooperation to competent authorities, disregard for advices of competent authorities, contempt for law of land (IPC) or orders of court, false and frivolous pleadings and misuse of judicial process, swearing false affidavit in High Court and blatant lie before SC.

I would also draw the attention of new CEO to the number of dead and retired members who kept on hoping for Right Wages till the end of life or service as well as those forcibly retrenched staffs who had to go out solely for demanding the Right Wages in Patna branch of TOI itself. While the number of retired members have gone up by 3 since 2008, many more are likely to follow suit. In addition, the plant union i.e. The Times Of India Newspaper Employees Union has already received many petitions from its own members who are facing acute crisis and hardship due to non-payment of Right Wages by the above-named managements in league with its primary employer company.

There is one member who has just retired and could not arrange proper medical care for his 22-year-old sick son and the latter had to breathe his last as a result shattering his dream of any post-retirement help. There is another member who has to undergo dialysis every now and then because of continuing kidney failure:. There is one member who lost his daughter because of inability to pay hefty dowry. Then, there is another member who met an accident in truck-jeep collision while on duty and had his rib bone broken but had to go without wages during the period of convalescence. There are scores of members who have sick-old parents to look after and have marriageable daughters. Many of them have to pay educational loans for proper placement of their sons in the hope of post-retirement help.

In case the new CEO should be kind enough to take into account the denial of Right Wages right since 1989, as mentioned below, the data on aforesaid Annexure becomes terrifyingly high. Leave alone giving the Right Wages to workers, their increment has been denied for many years leaving them all at the mercy of continuously violated Wage Board Recommendations. Side by side are contractual workers who get annual increment of more than Rs 10,000 at least. When Wage Board workers demand what is duly recommended by the Central Government, they are threatened with prospect of closure of whole Patna Establishment.

The new CEO should also be aware that its organization  approached Mumbai High Court for direction to Manisana Wage Board to re-hear them, as would be evident from the aforesaid annexure quoted hereunder. The said Annexure 2 is nothing but a Press Communique published in Hindi daily of primary employer company of above-said managements by Labour and Employment Advisor to Ministry of Labour in 1999 and read as hereunder in Hindi जैसाकि न्यायलय ने यह निर्देश भी दिया है की समाचार प्रतिष्ठान न्यायालय के आदेश को वेतन बोर्ड के उद्येश में विलम्ब करन तथा उसे विफल करने के लिए इस्तेमाल नहीं करेंगे Yet, despite the existence of ”clubbing” clause not only in Working Journalist Act (mentioned below) but also in Manisana Wage Board Recommendation itself as mentioned below, his organization alongwith its ancillary units continue to claim dichotomy of companies engaged in the publication of a common product called Patna edition of The Times of India and are actually making a false and frivolous pleading in gross contempt of  Mumbai High Court order with the sole motive to “dilly-dally, dodge, delay or defeat” the very purpose of Wage Board for no less than a decade.

Acting purely on its own whim and fancy it gave grade 9 to non-journalist and grade 6 to journalists since 1989 and grade 2 to journalist and grade 6 to non-journalist since 1998 …but certainly not the Delhi grade as per law and their own admissions mentioned below.

In case the BCCL managements or their employer company try to seek refuge under any wrongly-interpreted  provision of Working Journalists Union, as they expectedly would, the union would like to quote below Sec 13 of the same Act reading as hereunder”. On the coming into operation an order of Central Government under Sec 12  every working journalist shall be entitled to be paid by his employer wages at the  rate which shall, IN NO CASE,  be less than rate of wages specified in the order.

The provision of “functional integrality” stands already introduced in Working Journalist.Act itself and  the introduction of words like “SAME OR SIMILAR TITLE” and “SAME LANGUAGE IN ANY PLACE IN INDIA” entitles TOI workers all over India to claim the same grade. Mr Dhariwal should also take  notice of the fact that his employer company possibly have a compulsion or tell-tale mensaria to fight against or ignore “clubbing” clause said above or working unification theory held by PF courts as it helps them cover up their continuous sin of not paying Right Wages and thereby defalcating workers’ money by UNDERSTATING and UNDERPAYING their PF contributions also.

It may be reiterated that the wages of journalists and non-journalists are decided by Tripartite Statutory Wage Board constituted by Central Government after hearing both the workers and management side. It follows as corollary that PF contributions will have to be calculated on the basis of wages stipulated by Central government even though not paid by recalcitrant managements as PF Act clearly uses the word ”PAYABLE” not “PAID”. PF  Department will have to pre-suppose PF contribution as a fixed percentage of Right Wages and by not doing so it will only end up causing great loss to our workers. The primary employer management in league with other ancillary units have deliberately under-stated and under-paid Employers Contribution in connivance with PF department also..

Thus, by not paying the Right Wage, the managements of Mr Dhariwal’s company have deliberately understated and underpaid  PF dues with the sole view to befool and cheat not only PF Dept but also the union’s workers, both…an act which is unpardonable sin under not only in PF Act but also under IPC. Pleading lack of record for their past employees is not only a contempt of Delhi High Court order and is tantamount to dodging cooperation to a statutory body investigating in the matter under hon’ble Delhi Court order It may be also pointed out here that  when the Delhi High Court fumed and glared at non-payment of workers’ PF dues for the period of 1986-1989 till date,  the employer company of Mr Dhariwal blinked and buckled to admit  that its Patna Establishment was very much “part and parcel” of  its Delhi Establishment.

Mr Dhariwal should also know that his own people have made his organisation  GUILTY OF BLATANT LIE before various courts including the hon’ble Supreme Court by asserting on sworn affidavit as hereunder.. …I further say that the union concerned is neither recognized or authorized by the employees in the matter and as such incompetent to institute the present proceeding State of Bihar would confirm the existence of as many as three Tripartite Agreements with the petitioner managements along with their primary employer company as it has filed prosecution case  against all above-said managements together with their primary employer company later had unleashed a mayhem that subsided only after mass-termination of as many 300 employees and also the illegal closure of its Hindi daily in Patna.

Mr Dhariwal should also know that there is complete breakdown of labour laws in all the companies and as the records available with state of Bihar would show that the above-said companies along with their employer company are freely committing unfair labour practices (vide clause nos. 1c,4a,4c,4d,4c,9,11,15 of Fifth Schedule) one after another.

Earlier, finding prima facie evidences of other unfair labour practies under different clauses of Fifth Schedule of ID Act, State complainant has filed cases against these companies which are pending adjudication in Civil Court.

The morale of such a long story is that Mr Dhariwal should at first clean his  own stable before throwing muck on the time-tested theory of Wage Boards  or think in terms of hitting court against any of it. “Clean breast” theory pre-supposed in judicial process would come in way of misadventure in this regard. Unions are now quite legally wise to thwart such attempts.

toi union patna

[email protected]

Comments on “Edit Page Article “Muzzling The Media”

  • Pawan Kumar Bansal,Rohtak says:

    The Times of India against wage board for journalists
    Leading English daily The Times of India has launched a campaign against wage boards for journalists describing them as government’s remote control for freedom of press.

    WORKING JOURNALISTS struggling for implementation of wage board report have to fight against powerful owners of media groups. They feel that the constitution of wage boards is not required and that it is like the government challenging the freedom of media. Ravindra Dhariwal, Chief Executive Officer of, Bennett Coleman and Co.Ltd., which publishes the leading English dailies The Times of India, Hindi newspaper, Navbharat Times and news portals, has come out with an article titled “Muzzling The Media” in The Times of India questioning the need of wage boards for the newspaper industry. He argues that launch of wage boards amounts to influencing the freedom of journalists. How can a journalist write fearlessly against a government when he knows that it is this same government that decides his salary

  • Arun Kumar, President, The Times Of India Newspaper Employees Union Patna says:

    Today Paper Barons body INS (The Indian Newspaper Society) has carried a bign advertisement in The Times Of India titled ” Wage Board……………. Buying ther loyalty of Journalists”. This week yet another CEO of a media group i.e. India Today group has also continued its tribe against wage board with an article “Killing the print media” (so far as I remember) and has wasted a full page to denounce the wage-board. They may be asked whether these paper barons – media houses – be allowed to continue their exploitation ofg journalists and whether freedom of press should be only freedom of media barons and noty the journalists. Who dies in Mumbai whether a journalist or a media baron ?

    These media czars are trying to influence the people and brain wash them that wage board means muzzling the media. Whether in reality it is quite opposite – a journalist having job-security and cover of Working Journalists Act as well as Industrial Disputes Act and similar other acts can stand for neutrality of journalism and could strive for ethical journlistic practices. By removing system of Wage board from the media industry they are fighting a pitched battle to control the journalism – so that no could stand against them and challenge their misdeeds.

  • Arun Kumar, President, The Times Of India Newspaper Employees Union Patna says:

    It amy beaaded here that keeping in view the issue of maintenance of fair journalism in the age of corporate journalism once the Press Council of India – so far as I remember – when Justice P B Sawnt was its chairman – had passed a resolution in favour of continuance of Wage Board System.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *