Saturday, February 8, 2014

SC upholds as valid Majithia wage boards, awards

SC upholds as valid Majithia wage boards, awards

New Delhi, Feb 7:  In a morale booster for working journalists and newspaper employees, the Supreme Court Friday upheld the validity of the Majithia wage boards, observing their  recommendations for wage hike are based on genuine considerations. It also junked newspaper organisations' challenge to the constitutional validity of the working journalists and newspaper employees act.

Journalists Association of Karnataka (JAK) President Prof. Harischandra Bhat, in a statement hailed the Supreme Court Judgment and thanked all Journalist and Non-Journalist Employees Organisations like Bangalore News Paper Employees Union (BNEU), National Union Of Journalists (NUJ), Confederation of Newspaper Employees, PTI & UNI Employees Union etc. for striving hard unitedly for achieving this success .

National Union of Journalists (NUJ) president Uppala Laxman & Secretary General Prasanna Mohanty aslo hailed the Supreme Court Judgment.

Here are the reports from IANS & PTI regarding Supreme Court Verdict on Wage Board and reactions of JAK & Nation Union Of Journalists (JAK).

IANS Report:
 In a morale booster for working journalists and newspaper employees, the Supreme Court Friday upheld the validity of the Majithia wage boards, observing their  recommendations for wage hike are based on genuine considerations.

It also junked newspaper organisations' challenge to the constitutional validity of the working journalists and newspaper employees act.

Justice G.R. Majithia was appointed chairman of the two wage boards for journalists and non-journalists in 2009, and his recommendations wage hikes for both categoriers of newspapwer employees were notified by the government Nov 11, 2011.

A bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam, Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Shiva Kirti Singh said: "Accordingly, we hold that the recommendations of the wage Boards are valid in law, based on genuine and acceptable considerations, and there is no valid ground for interference under Article 32 of the Constitution of India."

Upholding the validity of the Majithia wage boards, the court said: "The wages as revised/determined shall be payable from Nov 11, 2011, when the government notified the recommendations of the Majithia wage Boards."

"All the arrears up to March 2014 shall be paid to all eligible people in four equal instalments within a period of one year from today and continue to pay the revised wages from April 2014 onwards," the court said in its order.

Examining the challenge to the constitutional validity of the Working Journalist Act, Chief Justice Sathasivam, pronouncing the judgment, said the court was of the opinion that the challenge to the act "is wholly unfounded, baseless and completely untenable".

Addressing the contention by the newspaper organisations that the wage boards have not taken into account regional variations, the court said: "It is clear from the report that the wage Boards have categorized the HRA and transport allowance into X, Y and Z category regions, which reflects that the cost on accommodation and transport in different regions in the country was considered."

The court also rejected the newspaper organisations' objection to the appointment of former law secretary K.M.Sahni and journalist P.N.Prasanna Kumar as independent members of the board.

"Merely because K.M. Sahni was a part of the government that took the decision to set up the wage Boards, does not automatically follow that he ceased to be an 'independent' member of the wage Boards. We are satisfied that K.M. Sahni is an independent member of the Board and cannot be considered to be 'biased' in any manner."

"The contention of the petitioners alleging bias against independent members of the wage Boards, being based merely on their past status, is entirely baseless in law and amounts to imputing motives," the court concluded.

Furthermore, the court said that "there is gradation of variable pay and allowances according to the size of the establishments wherein smaller establishments are required to pay those at a lower rate compared to larger establishments".

"Hence, we are satisfied that the wage Boards followed certain well laid down principles and norms while making recommendations."

Rejecting the objections to the procedure followed by the wage boards, the court said: " Numerous such incidental contentions vis-a-vis procedure adopted by the wage Boards were alleged which, in our considered view, are not of such grave nature that it calls for withdrawing the recommendations of wage Boards."

"In this light, after having exhaustively gone through the record of proceedings and various written communications, we are fully satisfied that the wage Boards' proceedings had been conducted and carried out in a legitimate approach and no decision of the wage Board is perceived to having been taken unilaterally or arbitrarily."

It also described as "not correct" the newspapers' contention that the boards copied the Sixth Pay Commission blindly.

"The concept of 'variable pay' contained in the recommendations of the Sixth Central Pay Commission has been incorporated into the wage Board recommendations only to ensure that the wages of the newspaper employees are at par with those employees working in other government sectors."

"Such incorporation was made by the Majithia wage Board after careful consideration, in order to ensure equitable treatment to employees of newspaper establishments, and it was well within its rights to do so," said the court.

--Indo-Asian News Service

PTI Report: 
 The Supreme Court today upheld the recommendations of Majithia wage Board for journalists and non-journalists on their pay structure and directed that the revised salaries be granted to the employees.

A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam said that the revised pay structure should be given to the employees from November 11, 2011 when the Centre notified the recommendations of the Board.

It said that new pay structure would be given from April 2014 and the employer will have to pay arrears within a year in four instalments.

"We hold that the recommendations are valid," the bench said, adding that the Board had followed proper procedures in giving its recommendations and the allegations levelled against it and its constitution are not right.

The bench dismissed the pleas filed by various newspaper managements challenging the validity of the Board's constitution and its recommendations.

"We are fully satisfied that the procedure adopted by the Board is legitimate and no decision was taken unilaterally and arbitrarily and there is no irregularity in the procedure, the bench said.

The bench also said that the recommendations by the Board regarding variable pay is also within its jurisdiction.

"It cannot be held that wage structure is unreasonable," it said.

The court in January this year had reserved its verdict on the pleas of the newspapers.

The 6th (Majithia) wage Board was constituted by the Labour Ministry in 2007 despite strong reservations from the newspaper industry, and thereafter announced an adhoc interim relief of 30 per cent of basic pay with effect from January 2008. This was implemented by the industry despite the heavy financial burden.

The wage Board submitted its final recommendations on December 31, 2010, which were notified by the Centre with certain modifications, a year later on November 11, 2011. PTI 

It is a great victory for Working Journalists and Non Journalist Employees of Newspapers. We must congratulate those journalist organizations who fought for justice and the role played by Journalists' Association of Karnataka, National Union of Journalists (India), Confederation of Newspaper Employees, Dr.N.K.Trikha, Shri Rajendra Prabhu, Com.M.C.Narasimhan for working day in and day out for the success. I wish to thank all those who helped me to present the Memorandum to the Jt.Majithia Wage Board during its sitting at Bengaluru namely, the DH&PV Employees Union, Newspaper Employees Union headed by Com.M.C.Narasimhan, Indian Express employees Union, UNI and PTI Unions.

While celebrating the success it would be our endeavour to see that all the Newspaper Employers to implement the recommendations of the Wage Board totally and completely.

I once again congratulate the members of JAK and BNEU for the success, delayed but not denied !
Sathyameva Jayathe !

- Prof.B.Harishchandra Bhat, President Journalists' Association of Karnataka

New Delhi: “The National Union of Journalists (India) hails the Supreme Court's decision rejecting the petitions of the newspaper managements on the Majithia Wage Board Recommendations and the Government’s subsequent notification on the issue of newspaper employees wage fixation. The Court has called for payment of wages of both journalist and non-journalist employees of newspaper establishments as per the new scales from November 2011 and implementation from April 2014.

The NUJ(I) welcomes this as a great victory of the newspaper employees, journalists and non-journalists together who fought the managements attempts to block the wage revision that came after 12 years in particular and working class in general at a time when the employers have been pressuring government to deny workers their due under the pretext of globalisation and liberalisation. The Government has also done the right thing to stand by justice to workers in notifying the Majithia Boards’ recommendations with minor modifications. The credit for the success in the case goes to the Confederation of All unions of the newspaper employees including the NUJ(I) under the leadership of the PTI Federation Secretary Mr. M.S. Yadav. 

The NUJ(I) considers this success as a challenge for the newspaper employees, more specifically working journalists to stand united and beat the managements’ attempts to impose an illegal contract system on them and also work together for the advancement of ethical journalism against attempts to dilute and disfigure it by various outside and inside forces.

Uppala Laxman                    Prasanna Mohanty
President                              Secretary General

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