APNS apprises Speaker of stance on Wage Award
ISLAMABAD — “A delegation of the APNS led by its President, Mr Arif Nizami held a meeting with the Speaker, National Assembly, Ch. Amir Hussain at Islamabad wherein the delegation apprised him on its position on the 7th Wage Board and noted that the National Assembly on June 11, 2004 have adopted unanimously and summarily a resolution on linkage of government advertising with the implementation of Wage Board.
The delegation observed that the resolution was adopted despite the fact that the APNS petitions were in the Apex Courts which suggests that the resolution was subjudiced and aimed at to appease the press gallery without thoroughly considering and deliberating the issue and consulting the position of the other party.
The delegation apprised the Speaker that a wage board was constituted in 1960 during the Ayub Khan period for journalists only, but the Bhutto regime enacted “Newspaper
Employees (conditions of service) Act 1973 (NECOSA-73)” which extended the Wage Board to all employees of newspapers whether journalists or non-journalists. Under this Act, the present government constituted the 7th Wage Board, which announced its Award in October 2001, whereby the newspaper establishments are burdened to pay Rs 200 crores in five years to the journalists (which counts on 30 per cent of newspapers employment) and non-journalists, which consists of 70 per cent of employees on roll.
The APNS-CPNE delegation expressed strong reservations on the NECOSA-73 and the 7th Wage Board Award and briefed the Speaker, National Assembly that the newspaper industry is the only industry which is subjected to a Wage Board which is constituted by the government and is a one-man board with arbitrary powers. The Act provides on appeal forum to challenge the award issued by one man, a retired judge of the High Court, having no knowledge of the newspaper industry and the conditions prevailing therein. The award covers 70 per cent of the employees including sweepers, peons, drivers, clerks, administrative and industrial employees, technicians, accountants etc who do not perform any special job as journalists do but the award treats them as special employees and considers them eligible for about 4 to 5 times higher wages and benefits than their colleagues get for similar jobs in other private sector organisations.
The delegation also apprised the Speaker on different meetings and agreements with the Federal Minister of Information and Labour on the issue and regretted that the government failed to honour their commitments resulting in litigation by the APNS. The delegation requested the Speaker, National Assembly to use his good offices to prevail upon the leaders and members of different parliamentary groups in the National Assembly to adopt a reasonable and rational approach on the issue and resist to be swayed on the wishes of pressure groups.
The Speaker thanked the APNS delegation for apprising him about all the aspects of the issue. The delegation thanked the Speaker for a patient hearing and inviting the delegation to his residence. The delegation included Arif Nizami, Syed Faseih Iqbal, Hameed Haroon, Altaf Hassan Qureshi, Mujeeb-ur-Rehman Shami and Dr Jabbar Khattak.”
Source: The Nation