APNS team calls on National Assembly speaker -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

APNS team calls on National Assembly speaker

KARACHI – A delegation of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) led by its President Arif Nizami held a meeting with National Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Amir Hussain in Islamabad wherein the delegation apprised him on its position on the 7th Wage Board and noted that the National Assembly on June 11 have unanimously and summarily adopted a resolution on linkage of government advertisements 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 court, which suggests that the resolution was sub judiced 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 the 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 percent of the newspaper employment) and non-journalists, which consists of 70 percent of the employees on roll.

The delegation expressed strong reservations on the NECOSA-73 and the 7th Wage Board Award and briefed the National Assembly speaker 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 no 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 percent 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 four to five 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 information and labour ministries on the issue and regretted that the government has failed to honour their commitments resulting in litigation by the APNS.

The delegation requested Chaudhry Amir Hussain 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 the pressure groups.

The National Assembly speaker thanked the APNS delegation for apprising him about all the aspects of the issue.

The delegation included Arif Nizami, Syed Faseih Iqbal, Hameed Haroon, Altaf Hassan Qureshi, Mujeeb-ur-Rahman Shami and Dr Jabbar Khattak.

Source: Business Recorder