No newspaper can pay the increased salaries and allowances, says the association
The Newspaper Owners’ Association of Bangladesh (Noab) has said the publication of the gazette notification on the new scales and recommendations of the 9th Wage Board were unrealistic and unacceptable as no newspaper in the country was capable of implementing it.
In a statement, signed by Noab President Matiur Rahman, the association said, in the gazette notification, all scales were increased by 80% to 85%, which was way above any other corresponding scale in the country’s industrial sector.
Mentioning the newspaper industry was going through its hardest time in history of Bangladesh, the statement also said apart from continually falling circulation and revenues from advertising, government advertisement rates remain low and large amounts of advertisement revenue always remain pending with government departments and the industry has to pay tax and VAT every step of the way.
“It is struggling to survive now; many are running on subsidies from the owners or even failing to pay regularly. Against this backdrop, implementation of the 9th Wage Board will only create a multi-faceted crisis that the industry is incapable of embracing,” the statement said.
“Under the 9th Wage Board, the lowest grade is Tk35,670 while the comparable government scale is Tk15,360, having a difference of Tk20,320. This is very unrealistic in the context of Bangladesh. A journalist having a bachelor or masters degree will draw a gross salary of Tk67,112 in Grade 3. A government officer entering service with Grade 9 with a salary of Tk35,600 while a university lecturer gets Tk37,305. Having the same academic degree, a journalist will get Tk30,000 to Tk31,000 more compared a first-class gazetted officer. Journalists are likely to get 1.5 to 2 times higher compared a first-class gazetted officer almost in every scale. Even multi-national companies fall behind in some cases. No newspaper can pay the increased salary and allowances,” it added.
Apart from that, the statement also mentioned that besides increased pay, the new wage board also increased various fringe benefits, such as general transport expenses has been raised by 100%, professional conveyance for journalists and business professionals raised by 71% and 100% respectively.
Noab also said some sundry allowances that it has requested to be expunged had not been retained but increased in some cases.
The association also mentioned the government’s move to bring asymmetry among the Bangladesh Labour Law 2006, Income Tax ordinance 1984 and other industries in matters of income tax and gratuity.
Noab also mentioned the new wage board did not reflect its recommendations that includes, increasing the number of grades to 18 as newspaper wage board has only six compared to 20 for government service, and fixing house rent as 50% of basic pay, among others.
The association also said to keep the newspaper industry alive, the government must reconsider the 9th Wage Board and seriously consider its recommendations.