Vol. 5 Num 215 Fri. December 31, 2004  
Front Page

Noab, BSP statement on wage board
Newspaper Owners Association of Bangladesh (Noab) and Bangladesh Sangbadpatra Parishad (BSP) yesterday issued a joint statement on the demand for a 6th wage board for journalists and employees of newspapers and news agencies. Following is the statement:

A demand for a 6th Wage Board has recently been raised by the employees of newspapers. As the two organisations representing the owners of newspapers -- Noab and BSP -- we want to categorically state that we are not opposed to the idea of a fresh Wage Board nor is there any difference of views about better wages and working conditions of newspaper employees.

However for a clear understanding of the issues involved we would like to make the following points:

1. Out of about 500 newspapers registered in the media list of the government of Bangladesh only 10 newspapers have fully implemented the 5th Wage Board and 4 others have partially done so. Many among the others have not implemented even the 4th or the 3rd Wage Board and others still are unable to pay their regular salary for months. This has been revealed by a recent survey jointly undertaken by the Ministry of Information and representatives of journalist and employees unions.

2. When 98 per cent newspapers are unable to pay the previously announced Wage Board awards, especially the 5th Wage Board, how rational it is to impose a fresh Wage Board? So, is the new Wage Board for only 10 newspapers?

3. In the era of free market economy the government has no right to impose a salary scale upon a particular industry. This will amount to discrimination and interference with press freedom and independence of media institutions.

4. It is inexplicable that unions of newspaper employees have gone to Information Ministry that has nothing to do with running of the newspapers and not to the newspaper owners' organisations who will actually pay the enhanced salary and benefits.

5. The NOAB and BSP are fully in favour of an independent Wage Board based on the realities of the industry, and NOT one attached to the Ministry of Information. There are several provisions of the previous Wage Boards that have been challenged in courts and have been found to be illegal. Several court cases are still pending. The power and role of the Chairman also needs to be discussed.

The NOAB and BSP are in favour of a fresh Wage Board but it must be one that is realistic and implementable by the industry as a whole and NOT for a few newspapers only.

We are unable to understand the reason for a newspaper strike when no talks have been held between the owners and employees of newspapers.

For the greater interest of the newspaper industry the NOAB and BSP members are open to any exchange of views with representatives of newspaper employees on issues of the Wage Board.