According to MAN, the actions of Annapurna Post and its parent organisation Nepal News International Pvt Ltd have violated the journalists' right to work and their entitlement to remuneration for their service as stated in the Labour Act.
Seven of the journalists have approached the Department of Information and Broadcasting, seeking intervention in getting the due salaries, provident fund, remuneration for accumulated leave and other basic facilities they are legally owed.
Uma Bista, one of the victims approaching the DoIB against Annapurna Post revealed that the journalists had not been paid their full salaries since March 24 of last year. They made repeated attempts to discuss the matter with the editor of Annapurna Post and the Chief Executive Officer of Nepal News International Pvt Ltd, but they were either put off or given false promises.
In March this year, the management and the editor told all the journalists to resign, saying that the company was shutting down its print version and going completely digital.
Yet, no formal notice was issued in this regard and publication of the newspaper is yet to close. According to MAN, Bista informed that the management was still avoiding meeting with journalists and was instead engaging in closed-door bargaining.
"Their strategy is to stop us from uniting and engaging with individuals rather than the group," Bista was quoted as saying.
Citing pressure from the upper levels and an unfavourable work environment, a total of 28 journalists had collectively resigned from Annapurna Post on March 16 this year and demanded that payments and facilities legally owed to them be provided. "The authorities of the newspaper have so far refused to provide such payments, forcing seven journalists to approach the DoIB for justice," said MAN.
In a memorandum submitted to the DoIB, seven working journalists also said they did not resign out of will but rather due to physical and mental duress they were put under.
"Such lack of job security, position of financial duress and dishonest behaviour of employers will cause the exodus of skilled and qualified manpower and discourage the new generation from entering this sector," said MAN Chairperson Laxman Datt Pant in a press release today.
Over the past year, hundreds of journalists were laid off by media institutions across the country, primarily in the name of losses inflicted by the COVID-19.
A version of this article appears in the print on June 18, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.