Sakal Times has asked its entire editorial team, that is, about 50 to 60 people, to leave and has wound up its print edition for good. The only ones who still have their jobs are, Madhav Gokhale, the editor, and the web team comprising about six employees.
Towards the end of last month, the employees were called to the office in Pune, and informed that the newspaper was shutting down and that they would have to resign. They were also told that they would be given a month’s salary as severance pay.
When the paper had asked 15 of its employees to resign in March, the rest of the workforce had assumed their jobs were safe, and that there would be no more job cuts. Therefore, this news was unexpected.
At the meeting last month, where the news of closure was broken to the employees, the staff had reportedly demanded three months’ severance instead of the one-month pay they had been offered. However, their request was refused, despite multiple rounds of discussions and negotiations. It is said that some senior employees also suggested working at 50 per cent salaries for the next six months, but the suggestion was not considered.
Apparently, the employees were asked to sign a resignation letter, which they refused to do, choosing instead to write official e-mails stating that they were being asked by the management to resign. However, the letter that was given to them along with the full and final settlement said that they had resigned by choice.
Sakal Times is run by the Sakal Media Group, which is owned by the family of Sharad Pawar, chief, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). Abhijit Pawar is the managing editor of the Group.