Kathmandu, June 16

Federation of Nepali Journalists' Central Chair Bipul Pokhrel said the FNJ's incumbent leadership could not just be a mere spectator to the woes of journalists during the COVID-19 crisis and in the future as well.

In his address to a virtual discussion programme organised by the FNJ with the representatives of all 40 FNJ institutional chapters here today, the FNJ chair expressed that it would not act as a witness to the exploitation of labour, pay and job cuts, and other kinds of unjust treatment against media workers during normal times as well as during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It is professionally, institutionally and morally bound to swing into action against such unjust media atmosphere. The frontline journalists who deliver factbased news bracing all the odds in this hour of crisis deserve proper recognition,'' he asserted. Calling upon all the bodies concerned to create a just working environment for journalists and media workers, he demanded that journalists be recognised as frontliners and anti-COVID-19 vaccines be provided to those who could not benefit from the first round of vaccination campaign due to obvious reasons.

"The FNJ is concerned about professional as well as physical security of journalists," he said.

Similarly, taking part in the event, FNJ Vice-chair Ramesh Bista said personal health safety and proper recognition of work were two prominent issues facing journalists amid the COVID pandemic. "Ensuring right to labour is one of the pressing issues in the Nepali media sector at the moment," he said, adding that the FNJ had scheduled media monitoring within a couple of days to find out the present scenario. "Media entrepreneurs violating the rights of journalists cannot walk with their heads high," he argued.

He vowed to challenge all kinds of unfair treatment against journalists institutionally and legally.

He further warned that the FNJ was determined to reveal the real face of those media houses with regard to their unjust treatment of staffers within the next 15 days. During the discussion, representatives of FNJ institutional bodies briefed the FNJ Province and Central leadership regarding the post-COVID situation and other pressing issues in their respective media.

During the briefing, it was found that some reputed, long-established and big media houses were highly apathetic towards the rights of working journalists while some media companies were found to be less sensitive towards the condition of their staffers in the COVID crisis. Forced leave, unpaid leave, transfer without prior knowledge, pay cuts, under-payment, non-payment, delayed payment, no access to social security scheme, lack of accreditation of the Department of Information and Broadcasting were identified as the prominent issues.

A version of this article appears in the print on June 17, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.