People's Democracy

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


No. 03

January 19, 2014



Scribes Submit Charter to Delhi Govt


ON January 14, 2014, a delegation of the Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ), the Delhi Press Initiative 2013-14 and the All India Newspaper Employees Federation submitted a memorandum to the chief minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, and also met the minister of labour, 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, emphasising specially the pernicious evil of contract labour in the newspaper industry while specifically welcoming the chief minister’s unequivocal commitment to eradicate the exploitation of labour in the garb of employment as contractors’ employees or employment on contract basis throughout the state.


The note to the chief minister emphasised that the newspaper employees are governed by special laws, viz, the Working Journalists & Other Newspaper Employees (Conditions of Service & other Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1955. It was under the said act that the central government appointed tribunals under Justice Palekar, Justice Bachawat, Justice Manisana and, lately, under Justice Majithia.


The memorandum pointed out that since 1979 more and more newspapers have implemented the various wage board awards for journalists more in their breach than to provide succour to the employees at large. It further pointed out that the centre had issued clear instructions about the implementation machineries, but this was not being adhered to even in the capital of India. It also stressed that it was the responsibility of the states to ensure implementation. The DUJ noted that the contract system is not only in violation of the Working Journalists Act 1955, the Industrial Employment Standing Orders Act and the Industrial Disputes Act 1947, but is also at variance with the public policy as reflected in the labour laws and the constitution of the country.


The note submitted to the labour minister, Girish Soni, contained some suggestions. It pointed out that the plight of journalists has got worse and confounded in the electronic media where hire and fire had become almost a norm, with one channel or another daily resorting to it. On the other hand, there were clear cases of dismissal of journalists and press workers even after the wage board had been set in motion.


The delegation suggested to the Delhi labour minister that there should be a specific machinery to look into the increasing cases of unfair labour practices. In the case of the media and for the freedom of the press, what is required is industrial peace, harmony and a healthy atmosphere in what is becoming a 24x7 profession.


The delegation demanded a pension scheme for journalists on the line of suggestions submitted to the previous government. Concrete examples from some states were also 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 the hours of work are concerned.


Those comprising the delegation included DUJ president Ms Sujata Madhok, DUJ general secretary S K Pande, DUJ treasurer Amit Prakash Singh, Delhi Press Initiative secretary Rajkumar, and AINEF vice president S D Thakur.