By Pabitra Guragain, KATHMANDU:- Chairperson of the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) Bipul Pokhrel has said the Working Journalists Act (WJA) aims to ensure minimum wages to journalists and to establish a legitimate relationship between journalists and media industry as well. “The Act aims to manage and strengthen media houses and to see credible media that promote the professional rights of journalists,” he viewed.
At a province-level interaction programme on ‘the situation, challenges and future strategies of the implementation of WJA’ here today, the FNJ Chairperson said, “Just minimum wages is not the goal of WJA, its goals are diverse.” The event was organised by the Minimum Wages Fixing Committee and coordinated by the FNJ, Associate Province Committee.
As he explained, enhancement of working journalist’s rights is the constant priority of the FNJ since the beginning and the effective implementation of WJA remains as one of the prime missions of the FNJ. It is committed to fighting for legal cause of media personnel, according to him.
“One of the challenges for enforcing the WJA is the State’s apathy and sometimes a controlling approach towards mechanisms meant for executing the Act,” the Chairperson of an umbrella organisation of journalists said.
He was for giving more rights to the Minimum Wages Fixing Committee, one of the structures enabled by the WJA, and regularly revising the wages of journalists in accordance with the time need as increasing market price.
On the occasion, Committee Chairperson Sangita Khadka stressed the need for making media legally binding for the rights of working journalists and taking collaborative measures to meet the goals. She also pledged to revise the minimum wage as per time. She shared that the Committee was planning to connect it to working journalists digitally so that they could put up their issues via internet.
The participants of the progammes expressed concern over (mis) understanding of ‘minimum wages’ by media owners. The concept of minimum wages is considered as the maximum scale, they viewed.
A strong legal support for journalists to fight against exploitation of labour is equally important as they reiterated. Multiple reasons, such as the risk of job loss, the possibility of development of a rivalry between working journalists and media house owners were some factors to discourage them to speak up openly against unjust professional treatment they are meted out at their workplace.
The working journalists said they wanted the Committee, FNJ, Press Council Nepal and other bodies concerned to be more proactive to address the issues of working journalists. Some of them demand a platform, such as training and orientation for journalists for their capacity building.
They were univocal that they had been just demanding the value for their labour and contribution, but the media houses were taking it as a big deal. They advised organisers to sit for those stakeholders concerned and hit the policy-level structures to see improvements in the condition of working journalists. Voices were also aired for further categorizing the ceiling of minimum wages and making media houses accountable for the guarantee of other rights of journalists.
The highest ceiling 24,375 of minimum wages is too less for journalists in the present time, the working journalists complained.
Chairperson of Associate Province of FNJ, Balkrishna Adhikari, mooted for making the policy makers and media owners more responsible to see real change in the status of enforcement of the WJA and eventually in the status of working journalists. RSS
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