NEW DELHI, April 16 - The National Alliance of Journalists (NAJ) on Thursday moved the Supreme Court against all retrenchment, salary cuts and allied orders by media houses against its employees. The media body sought the intervention of the Supreme Court in ordering that the actions against journalists be suspended.
The petitioner NAJ has called for direction to all media houses, including digital media, to treat all termination notices, resignations received pursuant to request, wage reductions, and directions to go on leave without pay, which took place after the announcement of the COVID-19 lockdown, as suspended with immediate effect.
The NAJ submitted before the Supreme Court that various employees of the media industry were meted out with inhuman treatment by their employers, based on unilateral decisions to either slash salaries or issue termination notices.
It pleaded that these steps were taken despite an advisory from the Centre directing that no services should be terminated during the period of the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown. The petition listed at least nine instances where media houses have imposed salary cuts or issued notices sending employees on indefinite unpaid leave, or served termination letters.
In the backdrop of the lockdown, the media industry has affected job and wages cuts with impunity, the petitioner alleged.
The media houses have "summarily shut down", arguing that it was in violation of the Industrial Disputes Act of 1947. Further, apart from contravening legal provisions and advisories, the petitioner argued that these steps were taken without being mindful of the helpless position of the employees.
Moreover, such treatment is contended to be in violation of the terms of the employment contracts and appointment letters, in some cases. The retrenchment effected over the last few days is additionally in violation of the Working Journalists Act of 1955 as well as the Other Newspaper Employees (Conditions of Service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1955, it pointed out.