Narratives in conversation with Raoof Hasan, the Special Assistant to the PM on Information.
What’s your take on retrenchments and salary cuts of employees in the media industry?
Jobs and salaries are internal issues of an organisation, which are decided by them according to their own circumstances and compulsions. Yes, retrenchments and salary cuts are undesirable, but such things happen all over the world. It depends on the context. The ongoing pandemic has hit businesses hard. Sands are shifting and businesses are forced to resort to such extreme measures. I hope and pray that conditions improve… people have job security and the decision of cuts in salaries is reversed.
Is the government taking any measures to protect workers’ rights?
The PTI government stands committed to the rights of workers. There is always a factor of compassion, whenever decisions are made. As we have seen, even during the corona virus challenge, when many people were demanding a complete lockdown, Prime Minister Imran kept the interests of workers, especially the daily wage earners, supreme. There was a lot of opposition from Sindh, but eventually the prime minister’s decision of partial lockdown proved right. I am witness to the fact that the PM always keeps the interests of the workers close to his heart. Steps like the Ehsaas Programme and free food for the poorest of the poor are its manifestation. As far as workers affiliated with the journalism industry are concerned, the Wage Board should be implemented as per the law.
How do you respond to the media owners charge that the government is creating a financial crisis by holding back advertisement dues?
I have checked on that… there have been six or seven meetings regarding this issue. Prime Minister Imran Khan is aware of the situation and has ordered that all dues be cleared, and it is being done. We are trying to engage further with the industry, but we should be clear about the fact that the issue of delay in the clearance of dues has not been created by this government. We inherited it from the last government, which left unverified bills and many other anomalies. We are trying to fix all this.