The Union Cabinet on Tuesday approved the recommendations of the Justice G.R. Majithia Wage Boards for the journalists and other employees of the newspapers/news agencies, benefiting around 40,000 staff in the country.
The decision will be sent to the Law and Justice Ministry for vetting and the gazette notification is likely to be issued by November 1, 2011, sources said, adding that the revised wages will come into force with effect from July 1, 2010 and allowances — transport, house rent and hardship — shall be effective from the date of notification.
However, the implementation of the notification is subject to the final order of the Supreme Court, which is hearing petitions filed by the media managements challenging the very constitution of the Boards and their recommendations, which they feel “are very high and cripple the media industry.” The case will come up before the court on December 7, 2011.
The Cabinet has approved only the recommendations related to the terms of reference of the Boards and those connected to the service conditions of the employees — like providing at least three promotions during the career, suggestion of increasing the retirement age to 65 years — have not been considered.
Justice Majithia, who headed the two Wage Boards that was constituted in May 2007 and gave its recommendations on December 31, 2010 to the government, welcomed the approval of his recommendations by the Cabinet and told The Hindu from Chandigarh: “The recommendations were made keeping in mind the financial capacity of the print media/news agencies, and the overall aspirations of the journalists/non-journalists. The overall wage burden vis-à-vis financial capacity of the management as per the recommendations will be around 14 per cent to the employers.”
On the benefit if the recommendations were implemented, he said: “If an employee now gets Re.1 as total wages it may go up to Rs. 2.5 to Rs. 3 roughly.”
Labour and Employment Minister Mallikarjun Kharge said as per the recommendations, the newspapers had been classified into eight categories and news agencies into four on the basis of their gross revenue.
To a question Mr. Kharge said there was no hurdle in the implementation of the government's decision as there was no stay by the Supreme Court. “Whatever decision the Supreme Court takes will be binding on both parties,” he said.