THIS is perhaps the first time in the history of Indian journalism that a court order has prevented a broadcast media organisation from laying off, or forcing a pay-cut on, employees.
In a statement from New Delhi on January 1, 2014, DUJ president Ms Sujata Madhok and general secretary S K Pande welcomed the judgement. They said: “A single judge-bench led by justice KBK Vasuki of the Madras High Court has restrained the Chennai-based media house --- New Generation Media Corporation --- from either retrenching the staff or effecting the proposed 50 percent pay cut from January 1st, 2014. The judge issued notices to both the company and the Tamilnadu government on a petition jointly filed by nearly 80 percent of the employees of the English News division.”
The Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) has congratulated the struggling staff and recognised the significance of this order. It expressed the hope that this could finally start the process of protecting the TV employees in regard to the rights being denied to them. The DUJ expressed solidarity with their counterparts in Delhi also.
Earlier, the DUJ had registered its opposition to the reported attempts to close the English News division of New Generation Media Corporation Pvt Ltd --- owners of the successful 24-hour Tamil news channel Puthiya Thalaimurai --- and its offices throughout the country.
It was only on December 26 that the journalists and employees of the channel were formally communicated of the severance and deep pay cuts offered by the company, seeking a decision on it by December 30, leaving very few working days for the 40-odd employees to take a decision on a situation that could alter their life and career.
The DUJ said a detailed description of the turn of events at New Generation on The Hoot website is convincing enough to make a case for the extending the Working Journalists Act, which provides some measure of job security to the print journalists, to the electronic media also.
The DUJ expressed solidarity with the struggling journalists of the New Generation and extended them all possible support. It appealed to the government both at the centre and in the states to intervene to safeguard the interests of the journalists and employees.