City journalists employed on a contract basis as well as small-town stringers working for small sums are both victims of the lack of effective trade unionism in the news industry, Harish Rawat, Minister of State for Labour and Employment, said here on Tuesday.

Speaking at the diamond jubilee celebrations of the Press Trust of India organised by the news agency’s employees’ unions, Mr. Rawat noted that trade unions in the news business could pay a constructive role in ensuring the employees’ interests.

“A large number of them are on contractual basis. No job security, no emoluments, meagre pay and stretching service conditions are their fate. Who will take up their cause?” Mr. Rawat said.

Similarly, stringers, who form the unrecognised backbone of the industry, work for meagre amounts and often face greater risks than their organised colleagues. “There is an immediate need for a social security scheme for this class of media personnel with a specific fund in place,” the Minister said.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) MP Sitaram Yechury said that in the current scenario, where many news managements adopted a hire-and-fire policy, the decline of trade unions and increase of contract employees eroded the collective bargaining power of media workers.

Fellow MP D. Raja of the CPI pointed out that while newspaper employees at least had an Act protecting them to a certain extent, there was no such support for electronic media employees.

Mr. Raja also enquired when the wage board would submit its recommendations for working journalists.

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