Nepal | October 22, 2020

FNJ threatens to launch stir against media houses

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The Federation of Nepali Journalists today warned that rigorous agitation was the only option left to make media houses pay the salary of working journalists and retain their jobs.

Issuing a press release, the umbrella organisation of Nepali journalists reiterated that layoff and pay cut of journalists, forcing them to go on leave without pay, improper transfer and denial of regular salary on the pretext of COVID-19 pandemic was unacceptable and illegal. “Working journalists face a double whammy of coronavirus disease and deprivation of salary.

As the festive season is around the corner, they have been impacted by the injustice meted out by the operators of the media houses and inaction of the Government of Nepal to strictly enforce the existing law,” read the release. Section 20 of the Working Journalists Act, guarantees that service and facility of journalists shall not be altered or changed to affect them.

FNJ said there were no other options than to intensify the ongoing agitation, while carrying out monitoring of the implementation of the law in media houses with poor records. It called on all its chapters, associates and provincial committees across the country to proceed protest programmes like picketing, sitin and hunger strike against such media houses as part of pressure campaign.

“We express solidarity with the pressure campaigns initiated by working journalists and join them to protect their rights and interests. We are also set to announce stringent protest programmes against injustice meted out to the mediapersons,” read the release. FNJ informed that as many as 257 journalists had been infected with COVID-19 across the country due to the nature of their works. Of them, two succumbed to the contagion.

Mediapersons are always on the frontline during the pandemic.

The umbrella organisation of Nepali journalists also demanded that the government make provision of medical treatment of infected journalists free of cost. “We urge the government to announce relief package and subsidy for journalists and media houses financially hit hard by the pandemic,” read the release.

According to findings of a national survey released by Nepal Press Institute and Bournemouth University of the United Kingdom last month, COVID-19 has affected the mental well-being of a majority of journalists in Nepal. A total of 83 per cent reported increased sense of vulnerability, 75 per cent increased anxiety, and 62 per cent grief, while 25 per cent said they experienced depression. Respondents reported decreased broadcast, video and audio productions.

The print sector saw reduction of both print frequency and number of pages, and some publications moved to digital-only format.

A version of this article appears in print on October 14, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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