New Delhi, April 15 : The Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU) has shot off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighting the large-scale retrenchment and payouts in the media industry, in wake of the pan-India lockdown that has been extended by 19 days after its initial run for 21 days.
In the letter, CITU General Secretary Tapan Sen wrote: “Now, I daw your attention to the incidents of termination of employment and non-payment of wages in the media sector, both electronic and print, although the media workers including the journalists mostly were on work during the lockdown period to keep the nation informed of all development and also to propagate the messages you sought to give to the nation through your repeated addresses.”
He has cited reports of The India Express and Business Standard asking their staff to accept a salary cut, even as The Times of India has allegedly “sacked the entire Sunday Magazine team”. Sen has also mentioned News Nation, a Hindi news channel, allegedly terminating its 16 digital section employees, and gone on to mention other publications like ET Panache and Bombay Times, which Sen claims are being merged resulting in termination of employment of 50 per cent of Panache employees.
The CITU leader has also alleged that “Hindustan Times Marathi are removing the entire contingent as it is going to be closed; Urdu paper Nayi Duniya and Evening Starof Mysore and the Outlook magazine stopped their print publication”.
This, Sen argues, is happening despite the Union Labour and Home Secretaries’ advisories against termination of employment and advocating for full wage payment. Sen told PM Modi that CITU has already “drawn attention” of Union Labour Secretary and state Labour Commissioners regarding the matter.
Interestingly, on April 14, as PM Modi announced the extension of the lockdown, he gave a 7-point advisory to people to follow – one who was for the employers not either to sack or cut the salary of their employees “in this difficult time”. But Sen told the PM, through his letter, that a “mere appeal” is not enough.
Sen batted for “strong enforceable measures to put a ban on all termination and wage cut” at a time the COVID-19 outbreak has shocked the nation.