Islamabad, Pakistan: The leadership of Journalists’ Unions from across the country along with hundreds of their colleagues have started pouring in the Federal Capital at the call of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) to press the government to accept their long-standing demands.
Political leaders from across the political spectrum have already endorsed the demands pertaining to the constitution of the 8th Wage Award and legislating for the salary structure for electronic media workers and an end to Contract System.
Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was briefed by PFUJ President Afzal Butt about the protest camp, has also urged his government to look into the pressing demands of journalists’ community but nothing has been done so far.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was also briefed by representatives of Multan Union of Journalists on Sunday on this issue who also offered his party’s full support for the just demands of the PFUJ.
The Journalists are demanding of the government to fulfil its legal responsibility by forming the Wage Board Award under the Newspapers Employees (Conditions of Service) Act 1973.
Successive governments since Musharraf regime had not fulfilled their legal responsibility and the newspaper workers are getting the salaries which were set in year 2000.
The working conditions of both newspapers and electronic media are worst as in several newspapers the salaries of workers are even less than the minimum wage of Rs 15,000/- fixed by the government. Majority of institutions are neither providing health facilities nor providing Provident Fund or Gratuity.
The journalist unions had been raising their voice since last many years but to no avail after which the PFUJ decided to stage a five-day protest camp outside the Parliament from 9th April.
Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Saturday refused to allow the journalists to set up a camp in the Red Zone. However, the PFUJ has said journalists and workers are determined to set up the peaceful protest camp come what may.
The affiliated unions of the PFUJ across the country had started mobilization campaign last month during which they met the leaders of the political parties including Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Mahmood Khan Achakzai, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Chairman Senate, Farhatullah Babar, Leader of the Upper House Raja Zafarul Haq, Leader of Opposition in Senate Sherry Rehman, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Khursheed Ahmad Shah, PTI central leader Shafqat Mahmood and spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry, MQM chief Dr Farooq Sattar, PSP Deputy Chief Anis Qaimkhani, leader of Opposition in Balochistan Assembly Abdur Raheem Ziaratwal, Pak Watan Party Chief Aftab Ahmad Sherpao, ANP leader Haji Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, and several others in their respective constituencies.
The PSP has already moved an adjournment motion as well as call attention notice in the National Assembly to discuss the journalists’ issues.
Till late Sunday evening more than 250 journalists and media workers have arrived in the Federal Capital while several more will be reaching on Monday to join the protest.
“We have lost our patience now and we have been left with no other option but to fight to achieve our legal rights,” said PFUJ President Afzal Butt.
PFUJ Secretary General Ayub Jan Sarhandi who has also arrived from Karachi, said that it was just movement for a just cause. “We are not going back without the acceptance of these demands and we are ready to give any sacrifice for achieving our objective,”