The All Manipur Working Journalist Union, AMWJU, in its State report tabled at the national executive committee meeting of the Indian Journalists Union, IJU, held in Tirupati, Andra Pradesh, argued that the ‘diverse voices’ of the country must be kept alive by saving the medium and small newspapers operating from the peripheries of the country. This can be partly done by addressing the disparity in DAVP advertising rates in the country. Citing the example of Manipur, Ratan Luwangcha, the Vice-President of AMWJU, highlighted that newspapers in Manipur enjoy a pathetically low advertising rate as compared to the rest of the country. While newspapers in Meghalaya are given Rs 100 per column on DAVP advertisement, their Manipur counterparts get a meagre Rs 10 per column. AMWJU urged the IJU to highlight the plight of Manipur’s newspaper at appropriate forums to bring relief.
He argued that a revised DAVP rate for the medium and small newspapers can be offered to those publishers who adhere to the Majithia Wage Broad which in return can uplift the lifestyle of the journalist in line with the minimum wage of the working journalists passed by the verdict of the Supreme Court which makes the Majithia Wage Broad mandatory for all newspaper publishing Houses in the country. In the ensuing discussion on the implementation of the minimum wage proscribed in the Majithia Wage Broad, the national executive of the IJU, observed that around 70 newspaper publishing houses of the 152 newspaper organizations notified by the Union Labour Ministry have already adopted the mandatory Majithia Wage Broad. However one of the disturbing trends that have developed is of opting for contractual journalist rather than regular ones to escape the mandatory minimum wage. The Committee condemned this conversion and termed in an illegal practice and resolved to take the matter to the apex court.
Significantly, some reputed newspapers have reviewed this practice and are making amends not to end up in the wrong side of the law. The Punjab unit informed that ‘Tribune’, a popular newspaper of Punjab re-converted 210 contractual journalists into regular and implemented the Majithia Wage Broad. The national executive body of the IJU also resolved to file a contempt case on all others newspapers that are yet to implement the minimum wage for the working journalist despite Supreme Court’s order to do the same by May 2014.
In the 3 day executive committee meeting, AMWJU also highlighted several of its efforts undertaken for the welfare of the working journalists in Manipur. AMWJU Vice President informed the house that the Union has successfully persuaded the State Labour Ministry to constitute the mandatory tripartite committee, comprising of the working journalists, publishers and the Govt to finalize the implementation of the Majithia Wage Broad. Through persistent persuasion and backed up by keen interest shown by the Manipur Chief
Minister, allotment of sites for the establishing a Press Housing Colony and the Manipur Press Academy in Imphal by the Manipur Govt were lauded by the national gathering.
Demand for pension
Enhancement of Manipur Working Journalists’ Pension Scheme from Rs 2000/- to Rs 4000/- also found mention in AMWJU’s State report in the National Executive Committee Meeting at Tirupati held at Reddy Bhawanam in Andra Pradesh where more than 25 State units participated.
Further the IJU national body accepted AMWJU’s proposal to hold its next national executive Committee meeting in Manipur in the month of November 2014. AMWJU proposal is with an intention to invite the national body of journalists to coincide with the State’s tourism event, the Sangai Festival, to compliment the State Govt’s effort to draw maximum mileage in national newspapers.
The national meet will wind up on 15th September with a sight-seeing tour of the temple town. The tour will include a visit to the special economic zone established by the Andra govt for speedy economic development of the state that witness its bifurcation into Telangana and Andra Pradesh.
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