Wage Board: Why Not For All Journalists & Non-Journalists In Media Industry?

I am wondering as to why The Indian Newspaper Society or the INS is publishing advertisements in newspapers, against the wage board for journalist & non-journalist employees! I am shocked to see the humiliating language that these advertisements contain, saying: “If this is implemented, a peon may receive upto Rs.45,000 a month and a driver may get upto Rs.50,000”.

Is it right to identify your employees as such, irrespective of their designations? Naming your employees who put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into their work in this manner is like openly insulting them without any fault. I protest this malicious attempt by the newspaper owners. I also condemn the such false, provocative, baseless and misleading campaign by those who have the capacity to buy space and publish anything they desire. Not only should they immediately withdraw this series, an apology to this effect may then be published.

But then, I am also wondering as to why those claiming to be the representatives of journalist & non-journalist employees on the wage board are not reacting to this daily dose of demeaning advertisements? But could they really oppose their masters with whom they are pally-pally otherwise! Moreover, I found a representation from employees’ side only that read: “Majority of the Sub-Staffs or Class IV staffs in PTI are getting a salary of Rs.20,000 or more. Majority of the Sub-Staffs are not even matriculate but they are getting a salary of Rs.20,000 or more ..” Quite shameful.

What should I say then — As you sow, so you reap! Accha tell me, do you know who are the representatives of journalist & non-journalist employees in the wage board! What do they do! Who had authorised them to represent us? What is their locus standi? How many journalists and non-journalists they actually represent? O my God, even the wage board website is silent about them and their activities.

Justice Majithia (left), Chairman of the Wage Boards for working journalists and non-journalists and other newspaper employees, submitting the recommendations to Labour Secretary P.K. Chaturvedi in New Delhi
Justice Majithia (left), Chairman of the Wage Boards for working journalists and non-journalists and other newspaper employees, submitting the recommendations to Labour Secretary P.K. Chaturvedi in New Delhi.

Former Supreme Court Judge Justice G.R.Majhithia had submitted his wage board report to the government on December 31, 2010, recommending a modest rise in salary and benefits for workers of the newspaper industry, to which the INS had reacted sharply. But Justice Majithia had said that a fine, fair and judicious balance had been achieved between the expectations and aspirations of the employees and the capacity and willingness of the employers to pay.

Now we are given to understand that the recommendations of the Majithia wage board have gone to the Supreme Court. But no one seems to be concerned as to who will be actually benefiting if this wage board report were to be implemented. Could we ensure implementation of earlier wage boards that were notified by the government from time to time? I want that the benefits — which are actually too little too late — must be passed on to all the journalist & non-journalist workers of the entire media industry; and not just the selected few of the print industry only. And before that, confirm the services of contract workers so that they could be brought at par and put in the fitting scale under the wage board.

There shouldn’t be untouchables, as I know there are hundreds of thousands of stringers and part-timers across the country who do not have any proper designations even. Further, their names do not figure in their company’s muster roll and they are paid just few hundred rupees… yes, not even $10. My heart goes out to them and their family.

India’s Labour Minister M Mallikarjun Kharge says wage board recommendations have been sent to the Prime Minister’s Office which would put them up before the government for implementation. But his role is also limited to be one of a facilitator only, as he himself says that the whole exercise is a tripartite kind of an arrangement among trade unions, employers and the government. “Government’s role here is one of a facilitator”.

Some so-called representatives from the workers’ side though say they will hold sit-ins and protest the delay in notification of wage boards. But their rhetoric seems more like salvaging their self-exalted positions. Many of them have no connection with the workers now, some do not have any standing whatsoever. Still they are basking in the Delhi summer.

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BACKGROUND: The Ministry of Labour & Employment vide Notifications No. S.O. 809(E) and 810 (E) dated 24th May 2007 as well as Notifications No. S.O. 1066 (E) and 1067(E) dated 3.7.2007 had constituted two separate statutory Wage Boards – one for Working Journalists and another for other Newspaper Employees – in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 9 of the Working Journalists and other Newspaper Employees (Conditions of Service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1955 (45 of 1955) under the Chairmanship of Dr. Justice K. Narayana Kurup, formerly Judge, High Court of Kerala and Acting Chief Justice, High Court of Madras for the purpose of fixing and revising rates of wages in respect of Working Journalists and Other Newspaper Employees, respectively.

Consequent upon resignation of Dr. Justice K. Narayana Kurup, the Government of India then appointed Justice G.R. Majithia as Chairman of Wage boards vide Notification nos. S.O. 580(E) and S.O. 581 (E) dated 28th February 2009. The Wage Boards are tripartite in character in which representative of workers, employers, independent members participate and finalize the recommendation. The Wage Boards for journalists and non – journalist newspaper and news-agency employees are statutory in nature. The prime responsibility for implementing the recommendations of the Wage Board rests with the concerned State Governments / Union Territories under the provision of the act.

22 comments

  1. I am employee of outlook publishing India private limited as a area sales officer. Can you please confirm Outlook publishing India private limited. Is under majethia wage board or not? If yes then when they will implement the wages board order.

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    • Dear Ajeet, every employee in the media industry – whether journalist or nonjournalist – is covered in the wage board. As regards implementation of the new wages in Outlook, please let me know if your organisation has cared to give its benefit to any employee, and if you have discussed the issue with anyone in your management or accounts department? I do not see any reason why you should be devoid of the benefits, whatever.

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  2. why not wage board to all the staff who are on regular payrolls of company. to staff who are given wage board stand tall, over taking thier managers wages. to day executives or managers are paid less after wage board. should managers hang their heads in shame.tio day we feel wage board should not have come.

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    • Wage Board has been totally stage-managed. To those who have go the benefits, will realise its impotency sooner while those not getting any respite have been made to bear brunt for no fault of theirs. The real beneficiaries had been those involved in planning and implementation, particularly in view of the fact that almost all of them were either retired or on the verge of retirement or had nothing to do with media. Even then, they got to get the fish which they are eating till date.

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  3. Dear Neeraj,I am really surprised as to how I missed your piece on the Wage Board? Any way ,today I saw it and hence this comment.
    The wage board report was submitted to the government on the last day of the last year. A year has already elapsed and its implementation is nowhere in the sight. Some or other newspaper is coming to the Supreme Court to stall the compliance of the report. The government does not want to annoy the big newspapers and that is why it is sitting silent and playing safe.
    You will be shocked to know that notices were issued by the Majithia Wage Board to more than 500 newspapers but most of them did not bother to reply. After innumerable reminders only 46 newspapers gave their submissions. The wage board had to criss-cross the country for nearly three years to know the status of the newspaper industry and the employees -journalists and non-journalists both- working therein. It may come as a rude jolt to many that none of the recommendations of any past wage boards, be it Shinde, Diwatia, Palekar, Bhachhawat or Manisana, which have been properly implemented by the newspapers. Earlier it used to be the Indian Express management to take the lead to scuttle the recommendations, this time the Old Lady of Boribunder has taken up the cudgels to demolish and destroy the entire Working Journalists Act. The Rupert Murdoch of India, i.e. the proprietors of the Bennett Coleman and Company, has openly threatened that any newspaper implementing the report would be excommunicated from the INS, a club or shall I say the Union of the proprietors?
    Logic and reason are being ruthlessly massacred and brazenly jettisoned to pave the way for the inebriated and powerful owners of the newspapers. They have engaged all top-notch advocates of the country, who have no qualms and compunction in indulging into intellectual harlotry for the sake of money and to launch attack on the employees in the Supreme Court. You can never expect any empathy or feelings for the pains and sufferings of the newspaper employees.
    Newspaper barons have adopted all possible tactics and ruse to deny the Wage Board recommendations. More than 90% newspapers do not have the regular employees on their rolls. Journalists are engaged on contract basis and non-journalists have been outsourced. As a result of it, the salaries of some employees are hitting the roofs but most are being deprived of even minimum wages.
    Do you know that many newspapers do not pay even minimum wages to their journalists and thus indirectly pushing them to be corrupt for their survival? Trade unions in most organisations have disappeared for various reasons and thus the owners have unhindered freedom to exploit, which they equate with their fundamental rights.
    The situation is really very grim but why a conscientious and insightful journalist like you is silently withdrawing from the scene? I have high hopes from you.
    Parmanand Pandey
    Advocate

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    • So nice to have your views here. Thanks so much for visiting and commenting.

      So far as I am concerned, I feel better Standing Alone or rather being made to stand alone. Though I know how brotherly and a true guide you have been to me always.

      No management can be so powerful as being projected. Thanks to all those who trade in unions; and I am of the considered opinion that all those who have stabbed the workers – both journalists and nonjournalists – will be treated similarly by their own fate which shall come, today or tomorrow.

      Thanks once again. Best wishes.

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  4. Sir, Hon’ble Justice Majithia submitted the recommendations about wage revision for newspaper employees in December 2010, one year past for this. Last wage revision was held about 12 years back. Due to the 6th Pay Commission, salary of the govt. employees increases as better, due to this inflation is touching the sky daily.

    Newspaper owners earning so high profit through high Advertisement Rate. They publish daily colourful pullout for Advt. Justice Majithia gave the full time to the newspaper owners to produce the financial conditions of their establishments, but they failed to produce the same. They are hiding their income. And crying for dry tears. Govt of India cut some recommendations as retirement age to 65 years and pension scheme by newspaper owners.

    Some owners applying the same scheme for their empolyees. In some organisations above 65 years old persons also are still working. There are low basic recommendation. The Basic should be higher as compared to existing or revised basic formula.

    Now may SC hear the matter as early as possible, because newspaper employees are waiting for wage revisions since 12 years and it is Govt of India’s duty to pressurise the newspaper owners. As well as it is the moral duty of newspaper employers to implement the Majithia Wage Board’s recommendations as per order and notification by Govt Of India as early because they are earning huge profit. And distributing few % tage on salary of their employees.

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  5. Is there any way by which i can know the total number of Journalists in India?
    Is there any reliable source which gives this information?

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  6. union government rejected the suggestion of justice majithia to increase the retirement age for journalists/non-journalists. officialy it is 58 years for them…on the otherhand the retirement age of journalists working with the doordarshan and all india radio, the retirement age is 60 years who are employees of the same union government..why this discriminatory attitude for journalists working in private newspapers?????

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  7. Implementing wage board will help definately, but a driver or a peon may get higher amount around 45 to 50 k which does not fit with their job category. Where as the real hard working employees will be drawing less amount. If wage board is implemented, the salary structure of the contract employees will also reflect ?

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  8. Exploitation of work-force still exists in India. Unlike newspapers in foreign countries, in India most of the newspapers are working under a few businessmen, whose only motive is to maximise profits of the company. Welfare of workmen is in the last of their agenda and these businessmen have lot of executives under employed on contract. They are paid hefty salaries and perks. These executives try to appease their bosses by exploiting workers down under who are on wageboard and execute professionally and meticulously whatever dirty job assigned to them.

    The fact is that newspaper barons carry umbrellas for the politicians and politicians are afraid the newspapers will use the space to write something against them, which can jeopardise their political position.

    In this vicious circle, employees are like lambs. Wageboard employees are very few now. Most of them had joined before 1985 and a majority of the employees are retired, dead, sent on VRS or resigned. Just a handful employees are there and they have less capacity to fight the newspaper barons.

    This obviously helps newspaper employers to delay the wages. Supreme Court will take its own time. And by the time these wages are implemented, many more will be retired or dead. And that much benefit to employers too.

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  9. My apologies if I sound rude but I’m really irritated with all the comments that are floating around, without realizing the real issue.

    Btw, the Majithia report is a public document so please be so kind to apply for it under RTI and then comment..eh?

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  10. So far as dear Justice Majithia is concerned, he has broken all bounds and ventured into territories where even the obsolete Working Journalists Act does not permit him to … fixing wages for managerial staff, recommending service tenure and retirement age, not permitting the stakeholders a fair chance to air their views, having biased parties on board his leaky tub…etc.etc.etc.

    You know what Neeraj…please get a copy of the report and you’ll find that all the representatives for the newspapers refused to endorse the recommendations and 5 of the 6 representatives for the journalists and non-journalist employees signed it subject to reservations…effectively, neither of the party was happy with the recommendations..enuff said.

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  11. You know nothing of what you’re talking about. Heck you haven’t even seen the Report. Are you aware that no industry, establishment or factory has a mechanism where the employee wages are fixed (imposed) by the Government and not by the employer. Can you imagine why the press is singled out?

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  12. There should also be some discussions on anti-poaching agreements among newspapers. This limits journalists’ freedom to work wherever they want. In the long run it affects them financially and professionally.

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  13. After spending lakhs of rupees to set up wage boards and its functioning for several years, finally the report seems to going to the dustbin. Thousands of newspaper workers had a ray of hope when the Central Govt had set up the wage board. However, now the employers are trying to stall the implementation by hook or crook.

    Each employer wants his own development and not his employees’ welfare. Some newspaper owners are ready to implement the report but not to all the employees.

    In South India, one of the managements partially implemented it to only employees below clerical cadre though it’s a mandatory to all employees irrespective of their cadre.

    How these managements can cheat their own employees and defy the govt order. The govt should set up a watch-dog committee to ensure that each and every employee gets the benefit of the wage board once it is notified.

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  14. The report of wage board is still not in public domain. Pl do some efforts to have it posted on web. I wrote comment on TOI CEO article and my comments are available on it.

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/opinion/edit-page/Muzzling-The-Media/articleshow/8683072.cms

    My views are already there thus I am not repeating the same. I am happy that you expressed your views on such a sensitive issue on which journalists are avoiding to offer comments because they are just adopted to become employees and blunted the edge of being a journalist as their conscience have already been dead after accepting contractual employment of journalistic positions that could have been achieved after burring their intellectual and journalistic freedom.

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    • There’s really a lot of commentary going on about wage board without anybody realizing what the malady really is.

      Thing is, newspaper establishments are not worried about the wage policies…some of the big players…HT, TOI et al are already paying their employees more than what then latest wage board recommends.

      The problem lies in the The Working Journalists & other Newspaper Employees (Conditions of service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1955. Among other unholy provisions, It sets down that a journalist is neither required nor (mark this) permitted to work more than 36 hours in a week (even if he wants to). That converts into 5 hours a day. FIVE HOURS A DAY!!!!! Can you name a single industry/establishment/job/profession where this kind of restriction applies? None, as a matter of fact.

      An antiquated, obsolete 1955 law meant solely to rein in the newspapers and have the journos agreeable to the Government’s whims.

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