Notify Majithia Recommendations

Parmanand Pandey

The Confederation of All India Newspaper and News Agency Employee Organisations organised today i.e. 24th March 2011 an impressive demonstration outside Shram Shakti Bhawan, situated at Rafi Marg of New Delhi for immediate notification of the recommendations of the Majithia Wage Board for newspaper and news agency employees. Shram Shakti is the headquarters of Union Ministry of Labour and also of the Ministry of Power. I along with scores of friends of newspaper industry participated in the demonstration in the capacity of the Secretary General of Indian Federation of Working Journalists (IFWJ).

The Wage Board submitted its report to the Government of India on 31st of December last year. The Wage Board report is although highly flawed, inadequate and unsatisfactory for employees yet; the Government is taking inexplicably so much time to notify is really intriguing.

Wage Board is constituted as per the provision of section 13 of the Working Journalists Act for the revision of Wages. But now the Working Journalists Act itself has become outdated and redundant because it covers only the print journalists. In 1955, when this Act was enacted the only electronic medium was All India Radio, which was under government control and its employees have been entitled to government pay scales. But the situations have completely changed after 1990. Television channels have proliferated and now web portals are becoming extremely popular. Therefore, the need is to bring them within the ken of Working Journalists Act.

No wonder, that the Majithia Wage Board may perhaps be last Wage Board because of two reasons. The primary one is that the employees in newspapers are now appointed on the contract basis. The number of regular employees is therefore shrinking very rapidly.

In a few years from now, there will possibly be no regular employee in most of newspapers. Secondly; most of the newspapers have decoupled and outsourced their production and distribution departments. Only the editorials and administrations are being kept by them. Because of the dwindling number of employees, there are hardly any unions in media industry to raise their voice in favour of the employees.

In the name of liberalisation the government is also moving towards the policy of laissez faire. This presents a bleak picture for the working class. It is, nevertheless, hoped that government must still be having some sense of shame and will not further delay the notification of the recommendations to benefit the newspaper employees, whose number is, no doubt, now very small.