Stop media houses from laying off staff, cutting salaries: Journalist unions to SC

'In a lockdown of such an incredible magnitude people can barely move out, leave alone go job hunting.'

WrittenBy:NL Team
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Since India went into lockdown late last month to contain the spread of coronavirus, several media houses have laid off staff or cut their salaries, citing the economic damage from the pandemic as the reason. Now, journalist unions have moved the Supreme Court, asking for a stop to pay cuts and layoffs by media employers.

The National Alliance of Journalists, the Delhi Union of Journalists and the Brihan Mumbai Union of Journalists have jointly filed a Public Interest Litigation, accusing media employers of taking arbitrary action despite advisories being issued by the labour ministry and appeals from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Live Law reported.

"In the backdrop of the lockdown, the media industry has effected job losses and wages cuts with impunity. Media houses have summarily shut down, in violation of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. Despite the advisories mentioned above and legal provisions that disallow retrenchments, terminations or even suspension and closure of publications without due process, media companies have gone ahead with these measures, unmindful of the fact that, in a lockdown of such an incredible magnitude people can barely move out, leave alone go job hunting," the website quoted the plea as arguing.

The unions want the court to direct employers to immediately stop laying off staff or cutting their wages or sending them on unpaid leave, and restore the positions of those already affected.

In the past few weeks, as Newslaundry has reported, top English newspapers, including the Indian Express and the Hindustan Times, have cut the salaries of their staff, while the Times of India, a media giant, has laid off employees. The digital media outlet Quint has sent at least 45 employees on indefinite unpaid leave. The TV channel News Nation has laid off its entire English digital team.


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