ISLAMABAD: Journalists, media workers, representatives of trade unions and political activists staged a demonstration outside Dawn’s office here on Thursday to protest against allegedly seeking forced resignation from workers by the newspaper management and pay cuts of employees.

The demonstration was organised by the Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ) on the call of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) in coordination with the National Press Club (NPC).

The PFUJ has announced a series of protests outside Dawn offices across the country in solidarity with the employees of one of the country’s oldest newspapers.

According to a press release, PFUJ secretary general Nasir Zaidi while addressing the protesters recalled the historical perspective of the media struggle in the country.

He announced that the PFUJ would extend its complete support to workers of Dawn as well as other media outlets against the suppressive policies of their respective managements. He urged the Dawn management to restore terminated employees, end pay-cuts and pay arrears of all employees.

“The PFUJ has always maintained its principled stance and it was the PFUJ in 1971 that forced then prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to release Altaf Gohar, then editor of Dawn, after he was arrested,” Mr Zaidi pointed out.

He said whenever media was in crisis under military dictators Ayub Khan, Ziaul Haq and Pervez Musharraf, it were working journalists who faced the brunt and upheld the flag of the media freedom whereas the managements of media organisations were not seen anywhere. In fact, media owners benefitted out of the PFUJ’s struggle against the Press and Publication Ordinance enacted during the martial law regime under Ayub Khan, he added.

“It was the PFUJ at the forefront to defend Dawn when the authorities were bent upon branding it as a traitor entity in the recent past,” Mr Zaidi said. “There cannot be any rule of law and constitution as long as there is no free voice in the country.”

RIUJ president Amir Sajjad Syed, who moderated the demonstration, cautioned the owners of media outlets that their current anti-worker policies would lead to drop in circulation of newspapers and closure of channels. He declared that workers were united like a “stonewall” against the recent managements’ onslaught against them soon after improvement in relations of media owners with the government.

“This persecution of workers is not acceptable,” he said. Those who also spoke included PFUJ former secretary general Nasir Malick, senior journalist Matiullah Jan, APP union president Shazad Chaudhary, member FEC PFUJ Raja Shafiq, NPC vice president Khalil Raja, president of the National Party’s Punjab chapter Ayub Malik and Awami Workers Party president for Punjab Ammar Rasheed.

Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2020

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