Should papers implement Majithia wage board?

Notwithstanding the exponential growth of the print media post-liberalisation, it is clear that the voice of journalists in the publications they bring out is subservient to that of the proprietor, promoter and publisher on most issues and certainly so on the Majithia wage board for journalists and “other newspaper employees”.

Although owners and managers have unabashedly used the columns of their newspapers to rile against higher wages and build “public opinion” against the Majithia wage board through reports, opinion pieces and advertisements, a similar facility has been unavailable for journalists to air their views in the same publications.

It is as if journalists and “other newspaper employees”, whether on contract or otherwise, are in sync with their organisations in opposing the wage board’s recommendations. Which is, of course, far from the truth. Which is, of course, why a nationwide strike has been slated for June 28  to draw attention to journalists’ demands.

So, what do you think?

Is there a case for higher wages for journalists and “other newspaper employees”? Should the Majithia wage board be implemented or should wage boards be abolished? Are newspapers, which are rolling in profits, exploiting journalists with low wages and longer working hours? Or should journalists wisen up to the realities of the modern work place?

Is there truth in the charge that industry organisations like the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) are being used by big newspaper groups to prevent if not stall the new wages? Or is the contention of newspaper owners that they will wilt and crumble under the pressure of a higher wage bill justified?

Also read: Why doesn’t INS oppose no-poaching pacts?

Why Majithia wage board is good for journalists

9 reasons why wage board is bad for journalism

Media barons wake up together, sing same song

INS: “We reject wage board recommendations”

External reading: Why not wage board for all journos and non-journos in media?

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13 Responses to “Should papers implement Majithia wage board?”

  1. Objectivist Mantra Says:

    The newspapers should throw the Majithia wage board recommendations into the same dustbin in which they generally throw the articles that I keep sending as contributions from time to time. :-(

  2. Soopi Byari Says:

    Oh! This deafening ‘SILENCE OF THE LAMBS’ of the fourth estate! Freedom of expression is dead…Long live freedom of expression!!!!

  3. Aatmasakshi Says:

    The forced silence of journalists in the big newspapers suggests that the contention of newspaper owners that their journalists are well paid is correct. Good money extinguished the fire in their bellies a long time ago.
    The majority of journalists working in smaller, lesser known publications which do not implement wage boards have never had any voice and never will. They will continue to slave away in quiet dignity or depend on their little rackets to make ends meet. Why else do you think the masses are so cynical of mass media?

  4. Neeraj Bhushan Says:

    Do you know the antecedents of those representing journalist and non-journalist employees in the wageboard! Has anyone tried to know who are they? The entire so-called opposition to wageboard & agitation by few is pre-planned. All management men, Sir.

  5. Journo Says:

    As you are aware the Wage Boards for journalists and non-journalist employees of newspapers and news agency organizations were set up in May 2007,

    The Wage Boards submitted their recommendations to the Government on December 31, 2010. Over five Months have elapsed since then but the report is still pending approval and notification by the government. This has caused deep agony and tension to lakhs of workers in the Newspaper industry who seek your kind intervention to mitigate their sufferings.

    Now. a campaign has been launched by some vested interests to sabotage the Wage Boards recommendations. The attempt is to block the process of government notifying these recommendations as required under the Working Journalists Act.

    Some newspaper owners have gone to the extent of approaching the Hon’ble Supreme Court with an application for stay of the recommendations of the Majithia Wage Boards but the Apex court has refused to accept.

    The Supreme Court has several times upheld the constitutional validity of the Working Journalists Act dismissing the industry contention that it interferes with the freedom of the Press. (For instance, in the Express case in 1 958). It is too late in the day to repeat the same contention after so many apex court verdicts on the same issue. The wage boards function under specific provisions of the Working Journalists Act and the rules made under them. They consist of equal number of representatives of employers and employees with some independent members and are presided over by a High Court or Supreme Court judge. To accuse them of arbitrariness is to condemn the high judicial dignitaries who presided over them.

    The claim that newspaper industry has suffered by so-called “high wages” imposed due to the boards has no truth. In the 50 years since the WJ Act and the wage boards constituted under it have worked, the newspaper industry has gone from strength to strength. Just to quote the figures of 2008-09 there were 73,158 newspapers of different descriptions in the country. The dailies alone grew in 2006-07 to 08-09 from 8675 to 11,752, the “small newspapers” grew from 6508 to 8873, the medium ones from 1 797 to 2445 and the big ones from 370 to 434.

    There is no record of a single newspaper being closed because it could not pay the wages recommended by wage boards. The facts speak otherwise. The CAGR of the newspaper industry as recorded by the Majithia board was 7.27 per cent per annum between 1998-99 and 2007-08 during the years when the Manisana Singh wage board salaries were legally enforceable. The gross value of newspapers in the same 10 years (in 1993-94) prices rose from Rs. 36,625.2 crores to Rs. 68,853.2 crores. How can this be a setback for the industry? Let us also point out here that 16 Big Newspapers have over 75 per cent of their advertisement income from Government sources.

    A whole range of newspapers show huge rise in their revenues and in circulations during all these decades of wage board recommended wage scales in the industry. The Times of India group had increased its revenue from Rs 785 crores to Rs. 3540 crores between 1995-98 and 2006-09 (blocks of three year average) – there is an increase of 350.91 per cent. Medium newspapers like Samaj, Samyukta Kamatak, Sakal have shown a rise of 101.05 per cent, 310.90 per cent and 216.55 per cent respectively.

    Independent analysts quoted by the Majithia wage board say that wages as percentage of gross revenue in newspaper industry is mostly around 13 per cent with a few establishments alone crossing on up to about 20 per cent In the current context of Majithia wage board recommendations, the board itself has said: “Approximately it (wage as percentage of gross revenue) would mean that with this increase (that is the board’s recommendations) wages would become about 13.5 per cent of the gross revenue in respect of newspaper establishments falling in class 1 to IV. This would therefore result to further burden of just 3.5 per cent of the gross revenue.” For class V to VII it is 3 per cent of gross revenue. The Board says that this additional burden “would dissipate over the period as per the past trend.” The Board felt “it would be possible for them (newspapers) to bear such a modest increase,

  6. mounaprasad Says:

    For the kind of shoddy reporting these journalists are doing now a days, I wonder if they should be paid any salary at all, leave alone wage revision.

  7. ragav Says:

    The media barons have unleashed a one-sided propaganda misusing their own space in their publications to carry on a misinformation blitz. Have any one of the so called custodians of the fourth pillar of democracy thought to get the version of the employees side and publish. Is it not sheer abuse of freedom of speech to further the employers’ cause. The media does not have any right to question the government on its ommissions and commissions. First, let you all set your house in order. Also All the papers are carrying the INS advertisment against wage board, will any one of them dare to publish how many newspapers establishments implemented the previous wage board recommendations. Whether they all intent do pay just wages or not, let them stop this one-sided propaganda.

  8. B JYOTHISH KUMAR CALICUT Says:

    THE RESULT OF NON IMPLIMENTING WAGEBOARD RECOMENDATION IS THE SOLID PROOF OF GOVT. ONGOING LOYALTY BEFORE CORPORATE MEDIAS AND THEREBY ABUSE THE RELATION

  9. TKS Bhat Says:

    I ‘ve only one question to all media baron. Why should a media company sell its product below the cost price. I don’t think reader asked this favor. News paper industry change its business model first. Increasing a rupee on each copy ‘ll fetch all the money to implement wage board and it adds some millions to profit as well.

  10. madhvi menon Says:

    Even if the wage board recommendations are implemented, only few lucky are benefited. Because, most of the employees say, 80% are on contract basis in most of the newspapers. In some newspapers management says, wage board are meant only for class 4 and below category of employees!!!

    Even Govt or Labour Ministry are not bothering whether all eligible employees are getting the benefit. What a pity! The govt should set up watch-dog committee to ensure implementation of wage board recommendations in toto to all employees.

  11. Nagesh kumar pandey Says:

    Newspaper owners acting as jamindar and treating with employe as jagirdar. They exten time in the court by throwing huge

  12. BK Parashar Says:

    There is no reason why journalists should not get salaries at par with their counterparts in government or other pvt sector companies. Well-paid journalists will be abble to discharge their duties in a more free and fair manner.The newspaper owners should gracefully accept recommendations, without any ifs and buts.

  13. Krishnanandan Says:

    Is there have any grace period allowed for new newspapers for implementing the wage Boad for Journalists?
    If yes, what is the period
    I

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