Lawmakers press govt to ensure minimum wage for journalists

KATHMANDU: Lawmakers have insisted on a strict enforcement of the Working Journalists Act, thereby ensuring that journalists get the minimum wage set in the law.

Speaking in a meeting of the International Relations and Labour Committee of the Legislature-Parliament today, they demanded action against those media houses not abiding by the Act. They voiced that such media house should be deprived of government facilities.

The majority of lawmakers airing their views in the meeting said it was really unfortunate that journalists who were supposed to raise voice of the voiceless were themselves deprived of their rights.

In the meeting, Minister for Information and Communications Surendra Kumar Karki pledged to sort out disputes regarding the WJA enforcement after holding discussions with media representatives and entrepreneurs.

He added that the provision of minimum wage should be implemented in every business sector including the media.

Former Prime Minister and Committee member Madhav Kumar Nepal as the meeting stressed that journalists should be well paid for their works.

Information Secretary Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya informed the meeting that the Ministry had formed a committee to look into the issue relating to the enforcement of minimum wage recommended for working journalists.

President of Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) Mahendra Bista claimed that media were unwilling to pay journalists as per the Act.

Poshan KC, Chair of Minimum Wage Fixation Committee that was established as per the provision in the WJA, said the Committee decided to revise the minimum wage for working journalists after going through wide discussions with the bodies concerned.

Meanwhile, lawmaker Chudamani Jangali accused media industrialists of exploitation of labour. He voiced for a stern action against those media found violating the WJA.

Lawmaker Geeta Wagle urged journalists to be fully responsible towards their duty while advocating for rights.

Likewise, lawmaker Durga Paudel demanded that the government be more sensitive towards the issues concerning women journalists who were in relatively sorry state than their male colleagues.

Lawmakers Rajan Bhattarai, Lalbabu Yadav, Abhishek Pratap Saha, Pushkar Acharya, Lalita Kumari Regmi, Kamala Sharma, Pemba Lama, Radha Timilsina, Rajya Laxmi Shrestha and Prem Kishor Saha including others stressed that the government should come up with elaborate measures to ensure the effective implementation of WJA.

Though the government had decided to enforce the revised minimum wage for working journalists from the very beginning of the current fiscal, many private media houses are yet to implement it.

A full time working journalist of a big media house is recommended for the minimum wages of Rs 19,500 per month.