Blacklist media groups that fire staff amid COVID-19: Mumbai Press Club to Govt

The Mumbai Press Club has expressed its dismay and shock at the announcement of several media houses shutting operations, firing staff and announcing mid-stream and unilateral cuts in salaries of journalists and other employees.

In a statement issued, the Mumbai Press Club rued, “At a time when media employees are going through challenging times and braving the Coronavirus to go onto the field, and risking their lives to keep operations going, they have been ‘rewarded’ for their loyalty by the handing out of pink slips. These firings and closure of departments are both contrary to the due process of law, as well as violation of the advisories put out by the Central Government.”

It may be recalled that the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment had issued a circular on March 20, 2020, advising both public and private employers not to terminate employees or reduce wages. In his address to the nation on April 14, Prime Minister Narendra Modi again reiterated in his ‘Appeal No. 6’ to businessmen and companies not to terminate their employees at the time of crisis.

The Press Club alleged that it is in flagrant violation of the Government’s directions that media houses have gone ahead and sacked personnel and closed operations. These actions are also in breach of the law, which requires Government permission for closure and notice pay and other compensation under Sections 25 (O) and (F) as well as other provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act before terminating employees.

While the Club acknowledged the fact that business operations during the current lockdown are facing a crisis, it also maintained it is not as if all the media companies are in bad shape. “The bigger groups like the Bennett, Coleman & Company (BCCL) or the Times Group, HT Media, the Bhaskar and Jagran Groups and ABP are profitable and doing well. The few months of losses cannot be held against their employees, especially when for years these are the very journos and employees who have slaved for them to turn in a profit,” the statement pointed out.

The Mumbai Press Club has a 3-point appeal to the Government:

Media groups and employers agree to a moratorium on firings, and closure of departments during the current challenging period of the Coronavirus shutdown.

The Union Ministries of Labour and Information & Broadcasting urgently intervene to stop these illegal practices of closures and sackings, which are contrary to the policy defined by Prime Minister Modi.

The Union Government blacklists all media groups that have carried out illegal terminations of employees and closures, and bar them from benefiting in any way from the Government’s rescue package/ tax waiver schemes, as well exclude these companies from being recipients of Government advertising.


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