IFJ Demands Employers Pay Wages Due to Media Workers in Pakistan

Dec. 15, 2008

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) stands in solidarity with journalists and media workers in Pakistan as they rally across the country to demand an inquiry into the death of a cameraman who killed himself this week after his employer refused to pay him several months’ wages owing to him.

Mohammad Azam Khan, 26, a cameraman at Channel 5 in Lahore, committed suicide on December 2 after the station’s management refused his request that day for some of his wages, according to the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalist (PFUJ), an IFJ affiliate.

Like other staff at the station, Azam had not been paid for three to four months. Azam was the only breadwinner among nine siblings

The PFUJ and the All Pakistan Newspaper Employees’ Confederation (APNEC) led rallies and prayers for Azam in Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi and Peshawar this week.

Protesters and mourners are demanding an investigation into Azam’s death and the immediate payment of wages owed to all employees of Channel 5, which is owned by the Khabrain media group headed by Zia Shahid, as well as other news organisations.

The protesters urged the Government to link the allocation of its advertising spending with the requirement that news organisations pay their staff on time and in accordance with the law.

“The negligence of media employers in failing to pay their staff what is due to them must not be permitted to continue,” IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

“The suicide of Mohammad Azam Khan is an appalling tragedy that underscores the despair of journalists and media workers caught in a vicious cycle of receiving no reward for their work and yet trying to hold on to their jobs in an extremely tough economic climate.”

Further countrywide protests also demanded the Government take action to ensure newspaper employers implement the 2001 Seventh Wage Award.

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