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Journalists are laborers deserving fair compensation: G.M. Jamali

KARACHI: G. M. Jamali, President Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has asserted that journalists were also laborers of the pen, deserving fair compensation.

He was speaking at the concluding session of of Lobbying Meeting of Stakeholders held here jointly by PFUJ, International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and Working Women Welfare Trust focusing on Sindh journalists’ working conditions.

G.M. Jamali, pointed out that the purpose of the meeting was to inform parliamentarians about the prevailing working conditions of journalists.

“Our objective is to address the journalist community’s state of affairs, particularly those who are working beyond their capacity, getting low wages, and not receiving proper facilities.

It is essential to contemplate why journalists are working for free while putting their lives at risk.

“Particularly, it is important to highlight the risk faced by journalists in rural areas.

“We want to make stakeholders aware of this issue.

“Journalists are advocating for the rights of every individual in the society, whether it be issues related to women, labor rights, or any political party.

“Yet no political party addresses the concerns of journalists.

“In Pakistan, every government attempts to impose restrictions on journalists.

“There is a dire need of raising awareness among political figures to urge them to address these issues when they assume positions in legislative bodies.

“Pakistani parliamentarians should also understand the challenges faced by camera persons focusing on them.

“Whenever they participate in assemblies, it should be ensured that legislation addressing all issues, including those under the Wage Board, is enacted.

President PFUJ, while highlighting the lack of union registrations, advocated the creation of laws regulating union registration, suggesting the establishment of an agency where journalists could personally get their union registered.

G. M. Jamali, maintaining that journalists would be stronger and successful soon, appealed all the political parties to bring their issues to light whenever they get the opportunity.

In her presentation IFJ Focal Person and Trainer Sheher Bano informed the stakeholders that the project was supported by IFJ, under which the first ever survey on decent work has been conducted to find out the working conditions of journalists in seven districts of Sindh.

She further informed that a formal report had also been prepared with the findings of the survey which shows that majority of journalists face issues like low and delayed salaries, lack of medical facilities, lack of washrooms and transport facilities for women”.

Sheher Bano also included various political party manifestos in her presentation and shared insights regarding them with the participants.

“There is no salary structure or facilities for journalists in Sindh who are working as correspondents of various Media houses”, she said.

The survey also covered unawareness about laws and safety issues of the field faced by the journalists.

Sheher Bano said one of the most serious problems is related to the security of journalists such as harassment, censorship, mental and physical violence by state or non-state actors, registration of fake FIRs, bullying and threats.

They are not provided any support from their organisations.

The survey has revealed that journalism had seen a decline in the last few years and many newspapers and channels have been closed, rendering journalists jobless.

“As per the survey, there is a general dissatisfaction of journalists from their unions, but the survey also reveals that most of the journalists are unaware of the laws which can give them relief.

“The survey, which was done as a pilot project in Sindh, has the potential to be done across Pakistan to get the clear picture of the working conditions of journalists.

“Once the data is collected, it will help improve the working conditions of journalists across Pakistan,” Sheher Bano concluded.

By means of collective efforts the stake holders attempted to address and highlight crucial issues impacting the journalistic community, and seeking collective solutions.

Senior journalists and Media workers from across the city actively participated, along with representatives from various Political Parties, Civil Society, CBA Unions and UJs.

Furthermore, representatives from the Pakistan Information Department (PID) and the Labor and Human Resources Department Sindh also joined.

PID‘s Ms. Erum Tanveer (via voice message sent from out of city) stated that PID was actively working on capacity building and would continue to focus on enhancing journalists’ capabilities.

“Efforts will be made to bridge the gap between employers and employees to ensure that journalists receive their rights more effectively.

PID is working on informing journalists about laws so that they could advocate for their rights.

PID not only aims to provide information but also intends to take initiatives for the protection of journalists.”

Mehnaz Rahman from the Aurat Foundation highlighted: “As long as united efforts are not made, journalists will continue to be exploited and weakened.”

President Working Women Trust, Rehana Afroz, stated that there was a need for unity among journalists, unless this is achieved, things would not improve.

Shama Meethani from the Pakistan People’s Party mentioned that their government had passed the Protection of Journalists Law among other laws, and they continued to work on its implementation.

Zahida Bhund from the Pakistan Muslim League (N) acknowledged the significant role women have played, particularly saluting the role women are currently playing in journalism.

Shameem Mumtaz suggested a departure from sensationalized breaking news, citing its negative impact on journalists’ confidence.

Secretary Working Women Welfare Trust, Humaira Quraishi, proposed that educational institutions, especially the Media Science Departments, should play a role in educating Media students about Media ethics and laws.

IFJ Country Coordinator Ghulam Mustafa and Gender Coordinator Lubna Jerar Naqvi also expressed their views during the meeting.

Independent candidate Suroor Zafar participated along with senior journalist Ghazala Faseeh.

The meeting concluded with the unanimous passage of a resolution, signifying everyone’s commitment to remain united, upscale efforts, and raise a collective voice.