Bennett, Coleman and Company Limited, or the Times Group, slashed its employees’ salaries this week, the second such cut in a year.
On Friday evening, the group’s HR department emailed revised salaries to its employees across publications such as the Times of India and the Economic Times.
The cuts will be effective from April 1, 2021.
Internal emails accessed by Newslaundry show that staffers were individually sent tables of “existing” and “revised” pay, with cuts as steep as Rs 20,000 a month.
The media house did not send out a common email on the cuts, nor did it provide any rationale for it.
The pay slash comes amid a steep surge in Covid infections in India, coupled with lockdowns and curfews in several states.
“All other terms & conditions of your engagement with us, save & except the above shall remain unaltered,” the email read.
“No other news organisation has been this brutal,” a staffer told Newslaundry on the condition of anonymity. “It’s like the last decade of our careers didn’t happen.”
Another journalist at the group complained that the cuts were implemented in an “underhand way”. “They made it look like an appraisal mail,” the journalist said. “The revision document begins with ‘according to our discussion, as agreed’. At least they could have spared us that cruel joke.”
Last month, the of 100 percent of the Target Variable Pay to all its employees on the rolls of the company as on April 30, 2021. It added that a “special performance incentive pay”, part of the employees’ salary, would be paid every month from April 2021 to March 2022.
In an email dated March 16, 2021, Sivakumar Sundaram, the chairman of the media house’s executive committee, said that BCCL had “seamlessly” transitioned to a “hybrid workplace”.
“As the economy recovers,” Sundaram had written, “we continue to see the resurgence of ‘The Power of Print’ and the sustainability of a print organisation which is agile and fit for the future.”
The Times Group the daily Mumbai Mirror into a weekly in January this year, handing pink slips to at least 40 staffers. More than 20 journalists at the Times of India were across its southern bureaus last month. Last year, shortly after the pandemic lockdown, it pay cuts and laid off staffers across publications, citing disrupted supply chains, damaged circulation and dipping ad revenue.
We sent a set of questions to Sundaram on the pay cut. This report will be updated if we receive a response.