DD News staff move CAT as contracts not renewed, even as DD advertises for new staff

NEW DELHI: Doordarshan News has denied that it has asked contractual journalists to look for another job by June-end.

DD News director general Akshay Rout told that no such action had been taken and the rumours were baseless.

However, some of these journalists have moved the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) seeking a restraining order (injunction) against DD News management?s decision to terminate services of about 100 employees. The petition alleges that the management?s decision to end service contracts is ?illegal and against its own policy of renewing contracts every year in case it is not terminated.?

The tribunal that admitted the petition on 27 February has issued a stay order on the move stating that ?one set of contractual employees shall not be replaced by another set of contractual employees.? It has also directed Prasar Bharati to respond by 30 March. The notice has also gone to Prasar Bharati and the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

The news staff apprehend that the entire contractual workforce would be removed in a phased manner.

It is learnt from some news staff that certain senior officials have not only been threatening contractual staff, but also begun giving them long duties or night duties.

Simultaneously, the DD News website carries an advertisement for hiring 20 news correspondents and editors and offers pay packages of over Rs 1 lakh.

The petition has been moved by 31 journalists, who claim they were informally told to leave the organisation. ?They [contractual journalists] have been forced to work and do their normal duties even without formal letters of employment being extended, they are now sought to be illegally removed from services,? states the petition. The management has already fired three contractual journalists sending strong warning signals to the rest of temporary workforce, petitioner Anil Punia told

Punia stated that DD News has an editorial staff of about 300 in its national bureau. Of this, about 250 are contractual employees and rest are permanent officials drawn mainly from Indian Information Service (IIS).

He also said that some of these contractual staff had been working for more than 10 years, but they were asked to keep on working even though their contracts were not renewed in October 2013.

The petition states that mass hiring of contractual employees happened in 2003 when the channel was launched and in 2006 during news channel boom. A majority of them were hired from the Indian Institute of the Mass Communications.

In the absence of a clear human resource policy, for the last 11 years, the DD News management has been renewing work contracts on yearly basis. However, employees complain that since the past three years contracts were renewed arbitrarily.

In March, most journalists got three months extension until June.

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