TODAY -

Editorial of the week

Scribes and their pay
Courtesy: The Sangai Express 05th October, 2007



It is rather unfortunate that the real reason why the media fraternity in the State suspended its October 3 publication this year was not given the due coverage it deserved.

The media, especially the print media must be held culpable for this, including The Sangai Express, for not enlightening the public properly on why there were no newspapers on October 3 and why ISTV did not air its news bulletin on the said day.

However late we are, we think we owe it to the readers to explain why there were no newspapers at the news stand on October 3 and this is all that more important since many were under the impression that the press had taken the day off since October 2 was Gandhi Jayanti.

To cut a long story short, the media did not take the day off, but went on a cease work strike demanding the implementation of the recommendations of wage boards instituted by the Government from time to time.

The cease work strike was launched under the aegis of the Indian Federation of Working Journalists and the All Manipur Working Journalists' Union being a member of the Federation, it was but natural to follow suit.

Though the pay structure of journalists has not been a topic of much interest to the general public, it is important to note that at least two Wage Boards, namely the Bachawat Board and the Manisana Wage Board had suggested the implementation of a pay structure for newspaper establishments according to their circulation, the number of employees engaged and other criterion.

The question lying before us today is whether the media houses in Manipur are in a position to implement the recommendations given by the said two Wage Boards or not. A sincere look at the reality will no doubt tell us that the pay structure suggested by the two Wage Boards would be beyond the reach of most of the media establishments in the State.

A minute dissection of the economics of producing a day's paper would be beyond the scope of this column, but it however stands true that in most cases, the pay and salaries of the reporters, the sub-editors and others are nothing to write home about.

It is also true that the media persons in the State are an over worked lot, with many of them working in ungodly hours. Come rain or sun, curfew or general strike, there is no respite for the media persons.

Most of the reporters and Editors are on the round the clock duty, literally speaking. Some media houses do follow the rule of granting at least a day's leave in a week to all its staff on a rotation basis.

Some establishments, including The Sangai Express also follow the norm of granting 12 days casual leave annually to all its employees and those who do not exhaust their leave are compensated every year.

On the other hand, it also stands true that the journalists of Manipur are poorly paid. Since the media houses in the State cannot be expected to adhere to the pay structure recommended by the mentioned Wage Boards, the question remains, what can be done ?

If we remember correctly, MPP MLA O Joy in the last Assembly had brought this issue for discussion on the floor of the Assembly. The Labour Minister then was Z Mangaibou.

Thought the matter was discussed thoroughly with even the Minister organising a seminar on it, nothing much came of it. At that time we had suggested that the State Government frame its own recommendations keeping in mind the ground reality.

It is unfortunate that nothing has been heard about it since then.



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