IJU calls for improving working conditions for journalists

NEW DELHI, Aug 19: The Indian Journalists’ Union’s (IJU) national executive committee, which concluded its two-day meeting here on Sunday made a series of calls for improving working conditions for journalists in the country.
Criticizing the attacks on freedom of the media, the IJU said government pressure on media organisations by denying them advertisements in order to force them to conform to the diktats of ruling dispensations not only weakens the foundations of democracy in the country but also violates the freedom of expression guaranteed under the constitution.
“The fundamental duty of the independent media and journalists is talk to power and call those in power to account,” it said.
It said a “combination of forces, those in power and weak and greedy managements are undermining the freedom of the press, independent journalism and the people’s right to know.”
It also condemned the “cease and desist” notice served by the Anil Ambani-led Reliance on some newspapers to block the exposure of shortcomings in the Rafale fighter aircraft deal, and demanded that the company withdraw this notice immediately and unconditionally.
The IJU also called for implementation of the Majithia Wage Board and constitution of a new board.
The Majithia Wage Board was constituted in May 2007, its recommendations submitted in 2010, the union government accepting these in 2011 and the Supreme Court ruling in favour of employees and directing managements to implement it in totality in February 2014. Its recommendations, however, have not been fully implemented.
The union said it was “shocking that after such long years, majority of the journalists under the wage board are yet to receive the benefits.”
The IJU also welcomed the decision of the state governments of Assam, Tripura, and Haryana to enhance the pension amount for retired journalists to Rs 10,000, and the decision of the Odisha government to introduce medical coverage of Rs 5 lakhs to working journalists and their families in the state.
However, it criticized the states where such schemes were yet to be introduced and urged the central government to introduce Working Journalists’ Pension Scheme across the country. It also called upon the Centre to bring all working journalists, irrespective of their income, into the purview of the health insurance scheme announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Independence Day.
The IJU also called upon its state unions to launch a united movement to achieve pension and health insurance for all working journalists, irrespective of accreditation.
It also demanded that journalists be exempted from highway toll tax and parking fees at various locations, including airports.
“Journalists have to park their vehicles many times every day for performing their duties and have to pay heavy parking fees every day. Since journalists are serving the society with their relentless works for disseminating information and news for public purposes, they should be exempted from all kinds of parking fees,” it said.