International Federation of Journalists supports striking newspaper workers in Pakistan
The International Federation of Journalists stands in solidarity with its affiliate the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and workers of the English newspaper– the Daily Times who are striking this week in protest of the newspaper’s continued withholding of salary payments.
The situation at the Daily Times escalated on December 10 when two employees at the newspaper attempted to set themselves alight after their salaries had been withheld for 11 months.
According to media reports, receptionist Mohammad Aftab and Sohail Ahmed, a worker in the newspaper’s information technology department were seen pouring petrol on themselves on the newspaper premises. Colleagues at the Daily Times snatched the petrol and match box from them before they had the chance to self-immolate.
Following the incident, staff working in the newspaper’s Islamabad office went on strike.
In a statement, the PFUJ expressed serious concern at the conditions which led to the attempted suicide of two newspaper workers. The PFUJ has said it is extremely regrettable that media organizations are refusing to pay employees.
This recent incident points to a pattern of exploitation of media workers in Pakistan which is all too common. The IFJ reported in mid-August on the suicide of Ms Semaab, who worked for local Lahore newspaper Daily Anti-Crime following the newspaper management’s persistent refusal to pay her salary. In similar instances, journalists working for Channel 5 and Aaj TV in Pakistan have committed suicide after being denied salaries for several months.
“By denying salaries to their employees, media organizations are committing severe human rights violations,” the PFUJ said.
The PFUJ called on all media organizations to pay the salaries owed to their workers on time, claiming that failure to do so can result in extreme actions.
“The suicide of workers as a result of employee’s with-holding salaries is deeply disturbing. It is unacceptable for media houses to create a situation where workers feel desperate enough to make an attempt on their own lives” said IFJ Asia Pacific Director Jacqueline Park.”
“We call on the government to step in and hold media houses to account with regards to their treatment of workers and to pursue legal action against any organisations who do not comply with their obligations under national and international laws.”