The Indian Newspaper Society (INS) has urged Labour and Employment Minister Mallikarjun Kharge to reject the recommendations of the Justice G.R. Majithia Wage Boards for journalists and other employees of newspapers/news agencies.

In a letter to Mr. Kharge, INS president Kundan R. Vyas said the reports were prepared in breach of several rules and time-tested procedures. The Boards exceeded their term by suggesting measures that were manifestly beyond the terms of reference and scope. The reports were flawed and one-sided and, if these were accepted by the government, several newspaper establishments would be driven out of business.

‘No prior consultations'

The Boards' Chairman submitted the reports without prior consultations with members. No analysis of any credible financial data was carried out to arrive at the paying capacity of different classes of publications. Settled principles to assess the capacity to pay had been ignored and no effort was made to assess the burden on the newspaper industry. The Boards had not bothered to publish tentative proposals as was done by the earlier Wage Boards determining authorities to respect the principles of fair play and natural justice, Mr. Vyas said.

Meanwhile, Justice Majithia told The Hindu that if his recommendations were implemented, the minimum basic salary of the new comer in the class IV category in the highest classification (of newspapers/news agencies) would be Rs. 9,000 a month and that of a fresh journalist Rs. 25,000. “I want intellectuals, honest, upright and dedicated persons to enter the journalistic profession. If you don't pay them well how will you get good people and expect the profession to flourish?”

Journalists' welfare

The reports had been prepared keeping the welfare of journalists and other employees in mind in the long run and if they properly implement them the interests of such workers would be taken care of for the next 20 years. “Though I may not live for such a long period my report will live,” he said.

Sources in the Wage Boards said, among other things, suggestions had been made for setting up a permanent tribunal, on the lines of the Central Administrative Tribunal, to adjudicate complaints of disregard/circumvention of Wage Boards awards; formulation of an appropriate pension scheme for newspaper/news agencies employees; increasing the retirement age to 65.

As per the recommendations, every employee will get a minimum of three promotions in his career in an organisation.

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