Chairperson of the Federation of Nepali Journalists Bipul Pokhrel has said the Working Journalists Act aimed to ensure minimum wages to journalists and to establish a good relationship between journalists and the media industry.

"The Act aims to manage and strengthen media houses and to see credible media that promote the professional rights of journalists," he viewed.

At a province-level interaction on 'the situation, challenges and future strategies of the implementation of WJA' here today, the FNJ chairperson said, "Just minimum wages is not the goal of WJA, it has multiple goals." The event was organised by the Minimum Wages Fixing Committee and coordinated by the FNJ, Associate Province Committee.

He explained, enhancement of working journalist's rights is the top priority of the FNJ since its inception and the effective implementation of WJA remains one of the prime missions of the FNJ. It is committed to fighting for legal cause of mediapersons, according to him.

"One of the challenges to enforcing the WJA is the state's apathy and sometimes a controlling approach towards mechanisms meant for executing the Act," the chairperson of the umbrella organisation of journalists said.

He was for giving more rights to the Minimum Wages Fixing Committee, one of the structures enabled by the WJA, and regularly revising the wages of journalists in accordance with increasing market prices.

On the occasion, committee Chairperson Sangita Khadka stressed the need for making media legally binding for the rights of working journalists and taking collaborative measures to meet the goals. She also pledged to revise the minimum wage as per time.

She shared that the committee was planning to connect it to working journalists digitally so that they could put up their issues via internet.

The participants at the programmes expressed concern over (mis) understanding of 'minimum wages' by media owners. The concept of minimum wages is considered the maximum scale, they viewed.

A strong legal support for journalists to fight against exploitation of labour is equally important they reiterated.

Many working journalists do not speak about the injustice done to them at the work place due to multiple reasons, such as fear of losing job The working journalists said they wanted the committee, FNJ, Press Council Nepal and other bodies concerned to be more proactive to address the issues of working journalists.

Some of them demanded a platform, such as training and orientation for journalists for capacity building.

They also said that they had been just demanding value for their labour and contribution, but the media houses were not taking their demands seriously.

They advised organisers to sit with the stakeholders concerned and make policy-level structures to see improvements in the condition of working journalists.

Voices were also aired for further categorising the ceiling of minimum wages and making media houses accountable to guarantee the other rights of journalists.

The highest ceiling 24,375 of minimum wages is too less for journalists in the present time, the working journalists complained.

Chairperson of Associate Province of FNJ Balkrishna Adhikari mooted the idea of making policy makers and media house owners more responsible to see the real change in the status of working journalists.

A version of this article appears in the print on July 10, 2022, of The Himalayan Times.