BUJ condemns HT Media’s decision to shut down 6 editions
The Brihanmumbai Union of Journalists (BUJ) strongly condemns the illegal decision of HT Media Ltd to shut down six editions of Hindustan Times (HT) at Bhopal, Indore, Ranchi, Kanpur, Allahabad and Varanasi with effect from 09 January 2017. The closing down of six editions at one go is an unprecedented event in the history of Indian print media and has clearly been done to circumvent the implementation of the Majithia Wage Board Award which was upheld by the Supreme Court by its judgment dated 07 February 2014. Apart from closing down six editions, HT Media Ltd is also illegally “pruning” staff in various departments as well as in The Mint, a sister publication from the Group and has shut down the business bureaus in Mumbai and Delhi, besides the bureau in Kolkata. Hundreds of journalists are likely to lose their jobs as a consequence of these malicious and illegal decisions. HT Media Ltd, a BSE listed entity, with a yearly turnover of over Rs 2000 crore has not implemented the Award in any of its units and has forced employees to submit undertakings under Clause 20(j) of the Award to renounce the benefits under it. The Company has also failed to implement Clause 9(b) of the Award which entitles even those working on contract basis to receive Variable Pay at the rate of 30 per cent of basic scale. Section 16-A of The Working Journalists and Other Newspaper Employees (Conditions of Service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1955 (45 of 1955) expressly prohibits a newspaper establishment from dismissing, discharging or retrenching any newspaper employee by reason of its liability for payment of wages under the Award. Further, the Hon’ble Supreme Court is currently hearing a bunch of Contempt petitions filed against various newspaper establish managements and was all set to hear arguments on several legal issues including an interpretation of Clause 20 (j) of the Award. It is astonishing that a hugely profitable company like HT Media Ltd (whose third quarter of Calendar 2016 earnings stood at Rs 602.23 crore) has chosen to illegally close down six editions of Hindustan Times and sack several other journalists working in various bureaus rather than implement the Majithia Wage Board Award. Furthermore, the Company’s official website has projected a total revenue of Rs 662.40 crore, in Q1FY2017, which constitutes an increase of 7.5 per cent over the corresponding quarter of the previous year. It also maintains a strong balance sheet position with a net cash of Rs 823.40 crore. The BUJ demands that the management of HT Media Ltd should immediately revoke its decisions to shut down six editions and sack journalists in various bureaus, failing which it will draw the attention of the Honorable Supreme Court to these developments in the hearing slated for 10 January 2017.