Journalists body vow to strive for Wage Award, other rights
Karachi, August 20 : Federal Executive Council of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, which met in Quetta on August 17-19, 2007 reaffirmed its firm commitment towards the freedom of the press and expression, and resolved to soon wage a war on media owners if they failed to implement the 7th Wage Award before Eidul Fitr.
The FEC was chaired by the PFUJ President Huma Ali and was attended by representatives of the respective unions from across the country, a release said here Monday.
The meeting also resolved to resist all attempts to curtail freedoms either by managements of the media or the government, political parties and / or religio-political and ethnic pressure groups.
The meeting also deplored delaying tactics by the newspaper owners in the implementation of the 7th Wage Award and demanded of the government and the Apex Court to fulfill their responsibly for its immediate implementation.
It expressed deep concern over the rising incidents of violence against Journalists, attacks on media centers, and threats, particularly in the tribal areas like Wazirstan and other tribal areas in view of the deteriorating law and order situation.
It deplored abduction and killing of journalists and threats to their families, especially in Balochistan and Federally Administered Tribal Areas in the NWFP.
It expressed solidarity with the bar councils of Pakistan in their struggle for supremacy of judiciary and expressed the hope that through judicial activism the common man of this country will get justice.
The meeting also demanded immediate implementation of the Seventh Wage Award and viewed with concern the delaying tactics adopted by newspaper owners with the backing of information and labour ministries.
It observed hurdles are being erected in the working of implementation tribunal created under the Newspaper Employees Conditions of Services Act in the name of owners freedom of expression.
It noted that court cases are being used as a lever to delay implementation of the wage award and the higher judiciary is yet to come to the rescue of journalists and workers who are persistently being denied implementation of the award for last six years.
It regretted the soft corner the General Parvez Musharraf government has towards the newspaper owners who leave no opportunity in victimising workers and flouting labour laws. It further pointed out that the judge of even the ITNE is being transferred.
Petitions after petitions are being filed to delay and make the award redundant as courts do not serve an official forum to make amendments in an Act.
The meeting argued that while the constitution of Eight Wage Board was due, they are yet to see implementation of the Seventh Award and an official directive for the constitution of the Eighth Award.
It urged the Chief Justice of Pakistan to look into all the cases filed by newspaper owners as a delaying tactics in the way of the implementation of the 7th Award. The FEC endorsed the suggestions to move a petition/application in the Supreme Court of Pakistan in collaboration with APNEC for the implementation of the Award. This decision was later also endorsed in the joint session of FEC and NEC. The PFUJ also supported the decision of the APNEC in this regard.
This meeting expressed concern over the acts of violence against journalists in different parts of Pakistan. The FEC also took a strong exception of the hostile attitude of intelligence agencies towards the media persons in Balochistan and other parts of the country and demanded of the state agencies not to interfere in their professional activities.
It deplored threats by the security agencies and some political/politico religious groups to the journalists in Tribal Areas and other parts of the country.
PFUJ also called for complete life insurance for Journalists, photographers, and cameramen. Besides, it resolved that it was the responsibility of the respective organizations to provide them life saving jackets during the coverage in the conflict zone.
There have been over 40 incidents of violence against Journalists in the last seven months and feared that media may come under attack during the next general elections.
PFUJ expressed its concern that despite repeated demands the federal government has not done much in the cases of eight slain Journalists including Hayatullah Khan, Ismail Khan nor in the cases of those detained by the intelligence agencies.
The meeting demanded that government must make the report of Hayatullah Khan public as assured time and again by the Federal Information Minister, Mohammad Ali Durrani and the NWFP Governor.
The PFUJ meeting resolved that it would not accept any “code of conduct,” which confront with the freedom of expression and freedom of the Press, and demanded immediate withdrawal of the amended PEMRA Ordinance and other draconian laws. It was of the view that unless government abolish all “black laws,” including PEMRA laws under which Journalists and media can be targeted on the pretext of Ã´national interest, the government-Press relationship can not improve. Even at present there are several cases pending against the Journalists including some under Official Secret Act.
It also demanded withdrawal of cases against GEO correspondent Mukesh Rupeta, cameraman Sanjay Kumar, registered in Jacobabad, against Hadi Sangi in Larkana, against The Friday Special’s editor Abu Shamel, Tahir and others in Karachi.
It rejected the government condition over the withdrawal of the amendments unless the media owners submit the code of conduct and that too to the satisfaction of the government.
The meeting expressed solidarity with the people of Balochistan, struggling for their rights, and demands of the government to resolve the issue through dialogues instead of applying military might.
It expressed sympathy and solidarity with families of the people of Balochistan, missing since long and the human rights activists protesting their disappearance and for their recovery. The meeting expresses its regrets over the reported disappearance of more than 6000 people in Balochistan and asks the government to make efforts for an early recovery of these people. And meeting also condemns extra judicial arrests of people in different parts of Pakistan, particularly Balochistan.
The meeting also observed that gazetted holidays for the newspaper employees have been reduced to 6 days in the entire calendar year, depriving them of the real mental rest, a newspaper worker can only enjoy on the day, when his newspaper is not being published.
It asked the All Pakistan Newspapers Society APNS to restore May Day, Independence Day, Quaid-e-Azam Birth Anniversary, Quaid-e-Azam Death Anniversary, Liaqat Ali Khan Day, Allama Iqbal Day, Defense Day and Pakistan day holidays for newspapers.
Source: Pakistan Press International (PPI News Agency)