Skip to main content

Govt told to punish media owners firing journalists, applying salary cut, violating law

Counerview Desk
The Mumbai Press Club has protested against recent firings, closures and salary cuts of media employees in the wake of the current lockdown, stating this is being done at a time when they are going through “challenging times and braving the corona virus to go onto the field, and risking their lives to keep operations going.”
In a statement, it said, “These firings and closure of departments are both contrary to the due process of law, as well as violation of the advisories put out by the Central government”, recalling the Union ministry of Labour and Employment circular dated March 20 “advising both public and private employers not to terminate employees or reduce wages”, something that was repeated by the Prime Minister in his address to the nation on April 14.
The statement regretted, ironically, this is being done when media companies have been appealing to government for aid. Thus, the Indian Newspaper Society has written to the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on April 9 seeking waiver of 5 percent customs duty on newsprint, two-year tax holiday for newspaper establishments, increase in advertisement rates.

Text:

The Mumbai Press Club is dismayed and shocked at the announcement of several media houses shutting operations, firing staff and announcing mid-stream and unilateral cuts in salaries of journalists and other employees.
Almost acting on cue, several of these media groups, citing restricted business operations and falling revenue, have put hundreds of journalists and other employees on the streets in the middle of the curfew period.
At a time when media employees are going through challenging times and braving the corona virus to go onto the field, and risking their lives to keep operations going, they have been ‘rewarded’ for their loyalty by the handing out of pink slips. These firings and closure of departments are both contrary to the due process of law, as well as violation of the advisories put out by the central government.
It may be recalled that the Union ministry of Labour and Employment had issued a circular on  March 20, 2020 advising both public and private employers not to terminate employees or reduce wages. In his address to the nation on 14 April, Prime Minister Narendra Modi again reiterated in his ‘Appeal No.6’ to businessmen and companies not to terminate their employees at the time of crisis.
It is in flagrant violation of the government’s directions that media houses have gone ahead and sacked personnel and closed operations. These actions are also in breach of the law which requires government permission for closure and notice pay and other compensation under Sections 25 (O) and (F) as well as other provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act before terminating employees.
There is no doubt that business operations during the current lockdown are facing a crisis. However, it is expected that these companies should stand by their employees in this time of extreme crisis; and review their operations only when the situation eases.
It is also not the case that all the media companies are in bad shape. The bigger groups like the Bennett, Coleman & Company (BCCL) or the Times Group, HT Media, the Bhaskar and Jagran Groups and ABP Ltd are profitable and doing well. The few months of losses cannot be held against their employees, especially when for years these are the very journos and employees who have slaved for them to turn in a profit.
Losses during corona crisis cannot be held against journalists when for years they have slaved for them to turn in a profit
It has also come to our notice that despite this flouting of the law and killing of jobs by the media companies, they have on the other hand been appealing to government for aid. The Indian Newspaper Society (INS) has written to the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on April 9 seeking waiver of 5 percent customs duty on newsprint, two-year tax holiday for newspaper establishments, 50 percent increase in advertisement rate of Bureau of Outreach and Communication and a 100 percent increase in budget spend for the print media.
Some of the closures and job losses in recent days that has been documented are as follows:
  • Hamara Mahanagar shuts operations on March 18 citing poor business viability.
  • Outlook and Forbes India suspend print operations on March 30 and 27, 2020, respectively. 
  • 15 journalists of the Sakal Group are asked to resign on March 31.
  • Indian Express and Business Standard announce salary cuts ranging from 30 to 50 percent. 
  • India Ahead News announces salary cuts on April 4, 2020. 
  • A section of journalists at The Quint are asked to go on leave without pay, others are asked to take a salary cut on 9th and 10th April. 
  • News Nation lays off its entire English digital team of 15 journalists and Star of Mysore suspends print operations on 12 April. 
  • Nai Duniya owned by Dainik Jagran suspends print operations on April 13. 
  • Some of the big groups including Times Group, HT Media, Network18 Group and India Today Group have cutback or abolished some emoluments and are planning the shutdown of some departments and supplements and retrenching staff to save revenue. If these go through, huge job losses are on the cards. 
In these circumstances, our urgent appeal is:
  1. Media groups and employers agree to a moratorium on firings, and closure of departments during the current challenging period of the Coronavirus shutdown.
  2. The Union Ministries of Labour and Information & Broadcasting urgently intervene to stop these illegal practices of closures and sackings which are contrary to the policy defined by Prime Minister Modi. 
  3. The Union government blacklist all media groups that have carried out illegal terminations of employees and closures, and bar them from benefiting in any way from the government’s rescue package /tax waiver schemes, as well exclude these companies from being recipients of government advertising.

Comments

TRENDING

'Modi govt's assault on dissent': Foreign funds of top finance NGO blocked

By Rajiv Shah  In a surprise move, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, has cancelled the foreign funding license of the well-known advocacy group, Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), known for critically examining India's finance and banking sectors from human rights and environmental angle.

Misleading ads 'manipulate, seduce, lure' to market unhealthy harmful food

By Our Representative  The Nutrition Advocacy in Public Interest (NAPI) in its new report “50 Shades of Food Advertising” has sought to expose how seductive, luring, manipulative or deceptive these advertisements can be. Consequences of such advertising are increased intake of unhealthy food products that is associated with obesity and diabetes, it says. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

'Failure of governance': India, China account for 54% pollution-related deaths globally

By Vikas Parsaram Meshram*   A recent report jointly prepared by UNICEF and the independent research organization Health Effects Institute has been released, and the statistics within it are alarming. It states that in 2021, air pollution caused the deaths of 2.1 million Indians, including 169,000 children who hadn't yet fully experienced life. These figures are indeed distressing and raise questions about why there hasn't been more serious effort in this direction, putting policymakers to shame. 

How US is using Tibetans to provoke conflict with China 'ignoring' India

By Lobsang Tenzin*  On July 12, US President Joe Biden signed the Resolve Tibet Act, and Tibetans cheered for it, believing that the law promotes a resolution of the dispute between Tibet and China. Is this true? First, let's look at the issue of the ownership of Tibet. 

August 9 to be observed as Corporates Quit India day: Top farmers' group

By Our Representative A recent general body meeting of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), the top farmers' organisation, stated hat "there is no need for any illusion of change in the pro-corporate policies of the BJP-NDA government" following the recent elections in which BJP failed to achieve even simple majority. It insisted,  Prime Minister Narendra Modi "is hell bent" to continue 'business as usual' policies.

Over 3.8 billion animals at risk: India on crossroad in animal welfare practices

By Rupali Soni*  In a collaborative effort, the India Animal Fund and Dasra have unveiled their report , "Our Shared Future | Securing Animal Welfare, Human Wellbeing, and Sustainability in India." This landscape report provides a thorough overview of animal welfare and underscores its indispensable role within India's socio-economic and ecological frameworks. It also illustrates how animal welfare is intricately intertwined with public health, labor welfare, and climate resilience.

Tribals from 60 villages observe seed festival to 'protect' diversity of indigenous seeds

By Bharat Dogra*  Nearly sixty villagers are sitting on an open floor covered by a roof for shade but otherwise open on all sides. Women and men are present in equal numbers but the visibility of women is higher because of their colorful dresses.