The leaders of two major journalist unions on Monday expressed utter dissatisfaction with a reduction in gratuity schemes and the introduction of self payment of personal income tax for journalists.
They urged the government to reconsider the provisions and amend them in the gazette notification on the ninth wage board for journalists.
They also expressed disappointment with plans to make provisions of the gazette notification effective in phases.
Leaders of the Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) and the Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ), demanded amendments to the aforementioned provisions, after a meeting of the BFUJ Executive Committee at its office in the National Press Club on Monday.
Presided over by BFUJ president Molla Jalal, Vice-President Syed Ishtiaque Reza, General Secretary Shaban Mahmud, DUJ President Abu Jafar Surja, and General Secretary Sohel Haider Chowdhury, attended the meeting.
Although expressing disappointment with some of the provisions, the journalist leaders thanked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for the publication of the gazette notification on the 9th wage board for journalists.
Why the disappointment?
On September 12, the government published the gazette notification on the 9th wage board for journalists and workers of newspapers and news agencies.
The gazette notification recommends journalists, press workers, and the administrative staff of newspapers and news agencies, receive gratuities equaling their monthly basic salary for each year of work tenure of over six months.
The current provision allows journalists and employees of newspapers and news agencies to avail two months gratuity per year if the person’s continuous service exceeds three years at an organization. If service tenure is less than three years, there are provisions for a gratuity of one month per year.
The gazette also recommends that journalists, press workers, and the administrative staff of newspapers and news agencies, pay their own income tax. Currently, newspapers pay the income tax of journalists, and other officials and employees in their pay, on their behalf.
On January 29, 2018, the government formed a 13-member wage board committee headed by retired Appellate Division Judge, Md Nizamul Huque.
The committee includes newspaper owners, journalist representatives, and newspaper employees and workers. The board submitted its report to the government on October 28, 2018.