People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 23

June 06, 2004

       DUJ Seeks MPs Support


The Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) has requested the newly elected Lok Sabha members to support their demand for setting up of a wage board for the entire newspaper industry along with a comprehensive amendment of the Working Journalists Act to bring it in tune with the changes that have taken place since its last amendment.


In a congratulatory letter to all MPís on May 24, 2004, the journalists body detailed the problems being faced by working journalists and non-journalists. It pointed out how when in all other industries wages are generally revised after every five years, the newspaper industry was left out for the last 10 years. This was despite statutory responsibility under the Working Journalists Act to constitute wage board periodically. Successive governments, irrespective of party composition, have been shying away from this task, noted the DUJ.


The DUJ also drew attention of the MPs to the system of contract employment, which the newspaper proprietors were using to deny newsmen their due. Using this device, the proprietors pay journalists, barring a select few, a fraction of what they legitimately deserve. The DUJ demanded abolition of employment of newspersons on contract and asked for their absorption as regular staffers. It said this practice posed a grave threat to the freedom of the press.


The journalists body also drew attention to the plight of journalists in the electronic industry where there were no laws to regulate the working conditions of staff. Journalists work sometimes for 14 hours at a stretch with negligible compensation in the form of wages. Therefore the DUJ demanded a comprehensive amendment of the Working Journalists Act to bring in its purview those working in the electronic media also. It stressed that this is all the more necessary because of the entry of foreign media moguls with all its ramifications. The DUJ concluded its letter saying it was an irony that journalists were starving while newspaper barons were multiplying their profits as was reflected in their annual reports.