Journalists Unions have moved Supreme Court with a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against all media organizations who laid off employees or forced them to take remuneration kickbacks in wake of the nationwide lockdown.
Accusing employers in newspapers and the media sector of meting out inhuman and illegal treatment towards their employees, the petition seeks immediate suspension of all termination notices, wage reductions, resignations received pursuant to oral or written requests from the employers, and directions to go on unpaid leave which took place after the announcement of the lockdown.
The petition, jointly filed by the National Alliance of Journalists, the Delhi Union of Journalists and the Brihan Mumbai Union of Journalists, accuses employers in the media sector of taking arbitrary action despite advisories being issued by the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment as well as two appeals from the Prime Minister.
"Despite the fact that the Government of India has specifically permitted print and electronic media establishments to continue functioning, the appeals made by the Prime Minister of India and advisories issued by the Government of India to not terminate services or reduce wages of employees, several employers/ establishments in the newspaper/ media sector have taken unilateral knee-jerk decisions to terminate services, reduce wages and also send employees on forced indefinite unpaid leave."
It is further submitted that summarily shutting down media houses is violative of the Industrial Disputes Act 1947 and that companies have gone ahead with the same without considering the hardships that would be faced in finding a new job. Enlisting 9 instances where such action has been seen since March 15, 2020, the plea seeks directions to the Centre, the Indian Newspaper Society and the News Broadcasters Association to ensure that no such arbitrary action is taken by misusing the lockdown.
"In the backdrop of the lockdown, the media industry has effected job losses and wages cuts with impunity. Media houses have summarily shut down, in violation of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. Despite the advisories mentioned above and legal provisions that disallow retrenchments, terminations or even suspension and closure of publications without due process, media companies have gone ahead with these measures, unmindful of the fact that, in a lockdown of such an incredible magnitude people can barely move out, leave alone go job-hunting."
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