The draft of Mass Media Employees (Services Conditions) Act 2022 has taken away several privileges bestowed by the labour law and an effort is on to remove the journalist identity using the word ‘mass media employee’ while the draft law has provided more protection to the media owner.
Journalist leaders made these remarks at a protest rally organised by Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) (pro-BNP faction) and Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ) in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka on Thursday.
Journalist leader Shaukat Mahmood said the draft law has cut gratuity and journalists’ right to join union has been taken away.
If any dispute arises, a tribunal led by a district judge will try to mitigate it but the tribunal will always work for the owners, he added.
Shaukat Mahmood said since service rules of the journalists are recognised in accordance with the labour law, there is no need for a new law.
BFUJ president M Abdullah said this draft law gives the arms to the media owners closed to the government and through which if the government wants, they can dismiss investigative and brave journalists. Formulated in 2017, the draft law has been changed for five years to outline on how journalists can be deprived and assaulted.
National Press Club general secretary Ilias Khan said, “Journalist is our last identity and attempt has been made to wipe it out. Now identity as a media worker is being given and the journalist identity has been written nowhere in the draft.”
BFUJ secretary general Nurul Amin said, “Attempt is on to undermine journalists’ rights and honour more as well as to deprive us of our pre-established rights.”
Former general secretary of National Press Club Syed Abdal Ahmed, National Press Club senior vice president and poet Hasan Hafiz, former general secretary of Dhaka Journalists’ Union Jahangir Alam Pradhan, Dhaka Journalists’ Union joint secretary Shahjan Saju, senior journalist Kaikobad Milon and National Press Club senior vice president Faisal Habib were present at the rally.