People's Democracy

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


No. 27

July 03, 2011

 Scribes, Press Workers Stage Dharna in Delhi


ON June 28, journalists and press workers staged protest actions all over the country against the inordinate delay in notification of the Wage Board and to caution the government against any attempt at killing the Working Journalists Act at the behest of press barons.


The call for countrywide protests was given at an emergency meeting of the apex body, namely the Confederation of Newspaper and Newsagency Employees Organisations, to which the All India Newspaper Employees Federation, the Indian Journalists Union, the National Union of Journalists (India), the Indian Federation of Working Journalists (IFWJ), the federations in the PTI and UNI and the Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) were a party.


In Delhi, at the call of the Confederation of Newspaper and Newsagency Employees Organisations and the Delhi Union of Journalists, a big dharna was held at Jantar Mantar. This had the support of several political parties and trade unions.


It was perhaps the largest gathering of presspersons since the united struggle against the Bihar Press Bill more than three decades ago. Not only this; it was also an unprecedented day-long dharna in the newspaper industry. Speaker after speaker charged the government of being in active collusion with the managements to reduce the journalists to bondage and penury.


Addressing the gathering, CPI(M) MP and CITU general secretary Tapan Sen charged that the government with working in the interest of corporate houses and pledged to the journalists’ struggle full support inside parliament and outside. He also urged the journalists community to have an introspection about non-coverage of the common people’s struggles. In particular, the unprecedented struggles waged by industrial and agricultural workers, including their historic marches to parliament, were virtually blacked out. Nilotpal Basu of the CPI(M) too extended full support to the demands of the scribes. CPI’s national secretary D Raja said the UPA government was not sticking to its commitments and that his party would be with the protesters in their “difficult times.”


M S Yadav, secretary general of the Confederation of Newspaper and Newsagency Employees Organisations, said more direct forms of action would follow if the Wage Board recommendations were not notified in another ten days. All India Newspaper Employees Federation vice president and Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) general secretary S K Pande urged for an intensified and phased struggle during the monsoon session of parliament, culminating in a national march of journalists and press workers to parliament.


Reports were read out to show that militant actions were there in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and parts of Uttar Pradesh. Dharnas and deputations to the chief ministers of various states were also reported from over a dozen states.


Others who addressed the protestors included Sharad Yadav (JD-U), veteran journalist and NUJ leader N K Trikha, Wage Board expert and NUJ leader Rajendra Prabhu, AINEF vice president Santosh Kumar, Times of India union’s general secretary Roopchand, Suresh Akhouri of Indian Journalists Union, AINEF general secretary M L Talwar, Indian Express Employees Union president Arvind Upreti and IFWJ general secretary Parmanand Pandey.


The participating unions were the Indian Journalists Union (IJU), All India Newspaper Employees Federation (AINEF), National Union of Journalists (NUJ), Indian Federation of Working Journalists (IFWJ), federations in the PTI and UNI, National Alliance of Journalists, Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ), Indian Express Union, union in the Bennet and Coleman group, the Association of Accredited Newscameramen (AANC), and Delhi Press Unity Centre, with a large contingent belonging to the Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ).


The dharna was coordinated by the PTI Employees Federation on behalf of the aforementioned confederation.