The outbreak of coronavirus has been devastating for many industries and the latest to feel the pandemic heat is the media industry. Enforcing pay-cuts, implementing compulsory leave without pay, has become very common for companies.
The Hindu, a subsidiary of Kasturi & Sons Ltd. has asked more than 100 of its employees to resign, as the organisation has been badly hit by the pandemic. Amongst the affected employees are the reporters, sub-editors and other staff across various editions of the newspaper.
Press Council of India has taken Suo-motu cognizance with regard to the threat to terminate the services of journalists working at the Bureau office of the newspaper Hindu published from Mumbai.
Justice C.K. Prasad, chairman, The Press Council of India has said in an official communique, “A large number of journalists associated with the daily newspaper The Hindu and working at the Mumbai Bureau have been asked to resign from their position. It has come to the notice that the management of the newspaper is not taking recourse to the terms and conditions by which they are governed and the terms and conditions of their appointment excluded the application of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 for redressal of their grievances rendering them remediless.”
“While taking Suo-Motu cognizance of the case, comments have been called for from the Editor, Hindu and Regional General Manager Hindu, Mumbai in this regard,” he added.
Criticising this move, the Brihanmumbai Union of Journalists has also called it “illegal.”
Earlier in April, when media houses started laying off employees, the Brihanmumbai Union of Journalists along with the National Allowance of Journalists and the Delhi Union of Journalists had approached the Supreme court to stop these inhuman layoffs.
Few affected journalists have been able to speak out or protest, as they are concerned about where they can find jobs from during a pandemic-induced economic crisis. In the case of The Hindu, many journalists also say that they shifted from the government-mandated Wage Board contract, which promised fairer benefits, to Kasturi & Sons Ltd contracts in good faith”, leaving them open to exploitation.