Will soon be circulated to other Ministries

Despite the stiff opposition from some newspaper managements to the recommendations of the Wage Boards for journalists and other employees of newspapers and news agencies, the Union Labour and Employment Ministry has prepared a Cabinet note, which will soon be circulated to other Ministries.

“We have prepared a Cabinet note, and soon it will be circulated to Ministries such as Finance, Information and Broadcasting, Law and Company Affairs … for their comments and suggestions, if any. After their views are received, the note will be relooked and presented before the Cabinet for its approval,” Union Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge told The Hindu here on Wednesday.

Asked about some media managements strongly opposing the recommendations, he said: “Let us wait for the reply to the Cabinet note.”

Asked whether any announcement could be expected in the Union budget for 2011-12, Mr. Kharge said it depended on how soon the Labour Ministry received the views of other Ministries. The Wage Boards, one for journalists and the other for other employees and both headed by Justice Gurbax Rai Majithia, presented their report to the Labour Ministry on December 31, 2010. However, the representatives of the employers (newspaper managements) have refused to sign the final report.

Once the Cabinet approves the recommendations, they will be gazetted. The Labour Departments of the States and the Union Territories will monitor the enforcement of the recommendations.

Among other things, the Board recommended an increase in the basic salary of the employees by more than two times their present basic salary; re-fixing of the age of superannuation at 65; introduction of variable pay; and an increase in the medical allowance.

On January 20, the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) expressed dismay at the recommendations, which it said would drive several newspapers out of business, if accepted by the government. It urged the government to reject the report.

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