IJU National Executive Committee Meeting
Chandigarh, December 9-10 2003
This meeting of the Indian Journalists Union (IJU) National Executive Committee held at Chandigarh on December 9-10, 2003, views with serious concern the deteriorating working and service conditions in the country's newspaper industry. As pointed out by this union on several occasions during the past few years, the Government's policies have been encouraging employers to deprive the working journalists and other newspaper employees of their hard-won rights, gains and facilities through the crafty contract system. Our demand, raised from this forum on every occasion, to abolish the contract system has been conveniently ignored by the government. The employers, therefore, having making full use of this stratagem to affect the service and working conditions adversely against the employers and workmen. The situation in most newspapers has become so grave that no appointment is being made on wage board mandated scales of pay. Even those who are already been under these pay scales are being persuaded and compelled to accept employment on contracts. This is seriously affecting the job-security of the working journalists, and hence, the freedom of the press. An insecure working journalists falls an easy prey to dance to the tune of the employers. Other labour laws are also being held to ransom by the employers.
The Government obviously is hand in glove with the employers in pursuing this I.M.F.-led step to enforce by design, what is euphemistically being called "labour reforms", but is infact aimed giving the employers a free hand to hire and fire workmen and to impose upon them whatever working and service condition they want to. The contract system undoubtedly helps them in undermining the trade unions and, thus, weakening workers unity. The IJU together with the other trade union organizations in the country will have to fight and defeat these attacks on the trade union and other rights won by our predecessors, even before independence.
The IJU is aware that this struggle is not going to be easy. It is also conscious that the employers must not be allowed to divide the working journalists and other employees between contractwallas and wageboardwallas. This meeting, therefore, calls upon all our state unions, in particular, and all working journalists and other employees, in general, to close their bonds, defeat the tactic to drive a wedge between wageboard and contract categories of workers. The need of the hour is to unite and put together, not to divide and fall apart.
The National Executive Committee, therefore, appeals to all state unions of the I.J.U. to make a common cause with other democratic forces and unite to pressurize the Government and force it to hold its hand and refrain from leading the country away from the cherished goals of the freedom struggle.
The Indian Journalists Union (IJU) has been noticing an increasing tendency among the various institutions of the state to arrogantly assert their respective "rights, privileges and powers" to the exclusion of all others. The tendency obviously suits the entrenched vested interests. It, therefore, needs to be curbed.
The Tamilnadu state Assembly's recent order to arrest four journalists of Chennai leading national daily 'The Hindu' is a case in point. After carefully recapitulating the successive developments in the state until the Supreme Court negatived the free run of arbitrary actions, this meeting of the IJU National Executive Committee congratulates the working journalists' movement and other democratic forces on their actions in fighting and defeating the state governments attack on the freedom of the Press.
The IJU, however, feels that such adhoc measures and one time displays of unity will not be enough to and end to such arrogant and trigger-happy actions of various institutions who should, infact work together and in cooperation to strengthen the roots of democracy in the country.
The IJU, calls upon all the media organizations to institutionalize a set up to conduct the future struggles against any repetition of such incidence.