Legislated right

Now that the parliament has passed the Working Journalists Bill-2007, journalists concerned may heave a sigh of relief, as it promises to ensure, for the first time, their legitimate rights in the organisations they serve. Several new features of the amendment to the 14-year-old law include the right to form trade unions, issuance of appointment letters to all working journalists, a representative wage board to fix minimum salaries for them and the 15 per cent ceiling on the number of journalists hired on contract. The last named would now have to be given the same salary and perks as their permanent counterparts, including the provident fund.

These provisions will go a long way in removing career uncertainty of working journalists and in making Nepali journalism more professional. But given the non-implementation of the original legislation, doubts persist. However, Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara says the new law will be put into practice. But, it is necessary to formulate the regulations that make the Act operative. It will be best if these are ready by the time the new amendment comes into force. The trade union right will give the working journalists a new power — that of a collective voice to bargain for and to achieve and secure their legitimate rights. It may also be expected to promote the freedom of the press from the standpoint of journalists. In the ultimate analysis, all forward-looking media organisations thrive on the cooperation and good understanding between the journalists (including other employees and workers) and the management.