A delegation of the Delhi Union of Journalists, the Delhi Press Initiative 2013-14 and the All India Newspaper Employees Federation submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister of Delhi Shri Arvind Kejriwal and also met the Minister of Labour, Shri Girish Soni with a note containing some suggestions.
The memorandum to the Chief Minister pointed to the state of newspaper employees both journalists and non-journalists emphasizing specially on the pernicious evil of contract labour in the newspaper industry while specifically welcoming the Chief Minister’s unequivocal commitment to eradicate the of exploitation of labour under the garb of employing employees as contractors employees or employment of employees on contract basis throughout the state.
The note to the Chief Minister emphasized “That in so far as the newspaper employees are concerned, they are governed by special laws viz. The working Journalists & Other Newspaper Employees (conditions of Service & other Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1955. That under the said Act the Central government appointed tribunals under Justice Palekar, Justice Bachawat, Justice Manisana and now Justice Majithia.
The Memorandum submitted that since 1979 more and more newspapers implemented more in their breach than in providing true succor to the employees at large as provided in several journalists wage board award. They further pointed out that the Centre had issued clear instructions about implementation machineries which was not done even in the capital of India. They stressed that it was also the responsibility of the states to ensure implementation. The DUJ noted that the said contract system is in violation of working journalists and other newspaper employees misc. Provision Act 1955, the Industrial Employment standing orders Act, the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 but is also opposed to public policy as reflected in aforesaid labour laws and the constitution of the country.
A note on some humble suggestions for the labour minister, Shri Girish Soni pointed out that making the situation worst confounded is the plight of journalists in the electronic media where hire and fire had become almost a daily norm in one channel or another. On the other hand there were clear cases of dismissals of journalists and press workers even after the wage board had been set in motion.
They informed the Labour Minister that there should be a specific machinery to look into increasing cases of unfair labour practices. In the case of the media and for the freedom of the press what was required was industrial peace, harmony and a healthy atmosphere in what was becoming a 24×7 profession.
The memorandum called for a pension scheme for journalists in the lines of the suggestions already submitted to the previous government. Concrete examples from some states were given. On the Wage board it suggested that steps be taken to immediately set up implementation machineries. The varying retirement rules in various newspaper establishments were also reported, as also the increasing five fold increase in contract labour even against permanent posts, with the Working Journalists Act being totally violated as far as hours of work were concerned.
Those present in the delegation were Sujata Madhok, President (DUJ), Amit Prakash Singh, Treasurer (DUJ), S K Pande, General Secretary (DUJ), Rajkumar, Secretary (Delhi Press Initiative) and S.D. Thakur, Vice- President (AINEF).