Strike goes on at media twins

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  • Published 24.08.05

Ranchi, Aug. 24: Work at Doordarshan (DD) and All India Radio (AIR) continues to suffer with the striking employees showing no signs of ending their agitation.

Around 2,000 members of the Jharkhand-Bihar wing of the Akashvani and Doordarshan Administrative Staff Association (Adasa) are taking part in the nationwide strike that started earlier this month.

The striking lot, which wants a hike in salary in keeping with the Prasar Bharati norms, is also aggrieved because employees in the programming and engineering sections have been getting the revised pay since 1999.

The Prasar Bharati was set up in 1996 while the pay hike came into effect three years later. But the administrative employees of Doordarshan and AIR are yet to reap the benefits of the revision despite their protests for the past six years

?We have been working under the banner of Prasar Bharati for the past few years. The contracts and letterheads are all in the name of Prasar Bharati but we are not being paid according to the Prasar Bharati norms,? rued Sanjay Kumar, a clerk.

The staff members also complained that the existing pay structure was so flawed that a qualified staff drew the same salary as a Grade IV employee.

?We have all come through the Staff Selection Commission but are being discriminated against. On the other hand, cleaners with limited qualification (matriculation) get the same amount of money as we do,? argued Sandeep Singh, a senior clerk.

The agitation programme includes lunchtime demonstration, walkout in the afternoon session, ?sign and quit? in the forenoon, daylong dharna, pen-down strike and mass casual leave.

After the current strike comes to an end on August 31, the association will go for a hunger strike from September 1, said Manoj Kumar Poddar, secretary of the Ranchi chapter.

The state has AIR stations in Hazaribagh, Jamshedpur, Daltonganj and Ranchi, besides a low-power transmitter in Chaibasa. DD, on the other hand, has stations in Daltonganj, Jamshedpur and Ranchi with low-power transmission centres in Chaibasa, Hazaribagh and Gumla. Ranchi has 29 AIR workers while DD has 17 in its administrative section.

As a result of the strike, daily operations of the two media entities have been adversely affected. Regular functions like booking artistes, signing contracts, attending court cases and payment of cheques and outstation bills, among others, have suffered. Besides, getting advertisements has also become difficult due to the agitation.

According to an estimate, AIR alone stands to lose Rs 20,000-50,000 per day while the amount is more than double in the case of DD.

?More than 600 contracts are signed every month by AIR, which means that 600 new programmes are assured for a month. That is getting hampered now. The situation will take a severe turn once we strike work completely after August 31.

Akashvani airs more than 14 hours of programme everyday on its primary channel and generates a handsome amount of revenue through the same. Due to the strike, AIR is forced to repeat programmes as recording work has also been affected. The programme executives do handle some of the work, but it?s rare,? said Ranveer Singh, an employee of AIR.