Indian Journalists Union
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IJU proposes a joint fight

The Indian Journalists Union (IJU) condemned the actions of the union government and some state governments which were detrimental to media freedom and freedom of expression. It has decided to organize nationwide protests in co-operation with other national unions of journalists and the Working News Cameraman Association (WNCA).  IJU National Executive Committee which met on 24 November virtually discussed extensively on anti-labour laws of the union government and decided to extend support and expressed solidarity with nationwide strike and protests called by 10 trade unions against anti-labour laws of union government on 26 November.

The meeting expressed anguish over the anti-labour policies of the union government including repealing of the Working Journalists and Newspaper Employees (Conditions of Service and other Miscellaneous Provisions) Act and Working Journalists (Fixation of Wages) Act and 12 other labour laws. The four codes bought in place of labour laws are detrimental to the rights of labour achieved after long struggles and sacrifices, the resolution said.

Executive Committee meeting presided over by its President K Sreenivas Reddy criticised the centre for its attempts to trample upon the rights of employees and workers. In his presidential remarks, Sreenivas Reddy expressed satisfaction with the agitation programs taken up by state unions on 2 October. He complimented all the journalists who participated in the protest program. Referring to the notification of draft rules issued by the Ministry of Labour and Employment under the Occupational Safety, Health, and Working Conditions Code, he said we had to react to the injustice done to the working journalists and file objections within 45 days. Though some clauses and rules were the same as before, on leaves and some other facilities there was no clarity. There was no mention of maternity leaves in the new proposed law, he explained.

Secretary General Balwinder Singh Jammu presented a report of activities of the union in the last two months. He complimented state unions for making success the national protests on   2 October. The journalists came out in big numbers and participated in the agitation. He said that in several states affiliated unions observed national press day on the call given by IJU.

Former President S N Sinha requested all the state unions to write a letter to the NITI Aayog member Dr. V K Paul requesting him to provide Corona vaccine to the journalists on priority basis along with other Covid Warriors like medical staff, sanitation workers, and police. He informed that this was suggested by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan when working news cameraman association delegates met him.

Former President Amar Devulapalli suggested that the union had to take up expansion of the union with new vigour. We have to concentrate on the states like New Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Gujarat, he said. He appealed to union leaders to take up time-bound program to strengthen organisation. He has requested all the state unions to procure advertisements and subscriptions to the union magazine Scribes News.

Srinivas Gundari from Maharashtra, who participated in the meeting as a special invitee, said a union was proposed to be registered under the name and style of Maharashtra State Union of Working Journalists (MSUWJ) and sought affiliation to the IJU. He said the process could not be completed due to the pandemic. He said they would hold the state conference of the union shortly after completing the formalities since the offices started working.

Veteran leader L S Herdenia giving his message opined that there is a need for taking up nationwide agitation against the misuse of sedition law by the union government and some state governments. "The provisions of this law are being used against journalists who are critical of policies and programs of the central government. We have to mobilize the support of other journalists' organizations and political parties for this cause", he said. He also suggested that the IJU leaders should think of compiling a book incorporating all the judgments of various courts on media and journalists. Unions should also answer all the queries raised by different courts, he said.

Press Council member M A Majid said that with the support of other members our union representatives in Press Council successfully raised and objected to the advisory of Press Council of India asking media to respect the gag order of Andhra Pradesh High Court.

The NEC severely condemned the ordinance brought out by the Left Government in Kerala amending the Police Act ostensibly to curb abusive content. The amended law gives unfettered power to police to book people for mere exercising of the right to speak their mind, the Union said. IJU Secretary V B Rajan from Kerala participating in the discussion informed that the Kerala government kept the controversial ordinance in abeyance after getting strong resentment from all quarters.

Presidents and General Secretaries of state unions presenting their reports explained the details of 2 October protest programs in their states. They have expressed anguish and anger over the non-inclusion of journalists in the Corona Warriors list by the union government despite continuous requests and agitations by journalists' unions. They have explained the sufferings of journalists due to illegal retrenchments and salary cuts by mercy less media managements.

Vice-President Ambati Anjaneyulu, Secretaries Y Narender Reddy, Balbir Singh Zandu, Shivendra Narayan Singh, D S R Subhash, and Treasurer Prem Nath Bhargava also participated in the discussion.

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