Labour codes threaten press freedom: WNCA

NEW DELHI, Jul 31: The All India Working News Cameramen’s Association (WNCA) strongly condemned the repeal of the Working Journalists and other Newspaper Employees (Working conditions and Miscellaneous Provisions), 1955 and Working Journalists (Fixing of rates Wages) Act, 1958 and subsuming them into the Labour Code Bills, one on service conditions and other on wages, introduced recently in the Parliament.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, president SN Sinha and
general secretary Sondeep Shankar, of the WNCA, the most representative organisation of photo and video journalists in the country, said “the government was trying to cut into the roots of press freedom in the country by repealing two legislations that protect the unique character of the profession of journalism.”
They said the government sought to equate ‘fourth estate’ with any other industry and brazenly favoured the corporate media barons who have persistently been demanding to abolish the Wage Board and do away with the Working Journalists Act.
“Any attempts to undermine the functioning of the ‘fourth estate’ must be fought tooth and nail as it would have adverse effect on the democratic polity and strike at the very root of democracy as the freedom of press is of paramount importance. The government is misleading the country, when it claims that it has consulted all stakeholders, for it has never discussed the proposed changes with the working journalist trade unions in the country,” they said.
Further, Sinha called upon the working journalists to oppose the repealing of the Working Journalists Act and the Working Journalists Wage Boards Act and join the protest actions of the central trade union organisations on 2 August, Friday to send a strong signal to the government that the journalists would fight along with other sections of the working class to protect their interests.