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Awan Announces 8th Interim Wage Board Award Yet Again: Karachi Union of Journalists President Says It Is A Political Statement

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After all the layoffs and salary cuts, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has announced the 8th Interim Wage Award for newspaper employees with an increase of between Rs5,000 and 8,500 in the monthly pay as an interim relief.

While the ad hoc increment had earlier been announced by the board under the chairmanship of Justice (retd) Hasnat Ahmad Khan in Islamabad on April 10, the PM’s adviser made the announcement afresh for reasons best known to her.

“Your [journalists’] efforts did not go waste. Today the government is announcing the 8th Interim Wage Award,” PM’s Special Assistant on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan told a press conference on Wednesday.

Reacting to the announcement, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) President Afzal Butt said although the relief was not enough, media owners should implement the new award, The Express Tribune reported.

Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ) President Ashraf Khan termed the development a “political statement” and a “formality” as it was already announced and notified earlier.

Meanwhile, only a few newspapers in the country implement the wage board salaries.

“This announcement will not materialise,” a senior editor in Karachi, who wished not to be named, told The Express Tribune. “Print media’s glory days have gone and their return is not expected anytime soon.”

The PTI government after coming into power allegedly attempted to control the print and electronic media by curbing its advertisements.

While the volume of advertisements fell drastically, former information minister Fawad Chaudhry also imposed a ban on releasing payments of advertisements run during previous tenures.

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The non-payment of dues led to severe financial crisis in the media industry, and on the pretext of ‘losses’ media owners carried out a ruthless retrenchment drive. According to an IFJ report, Pakistan’s media houses laid off nearly 2,000 journalist and non-journalist staff between May 2018 and April 2019.

Besides lay-offs, there were pay cuts, delays in salaries, reduction in newspaper pages, shelving of editions and even closure of some television channels and newspapers.

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