March 28th, 2012
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Newspaper agent strike: Major dailies incurs loss worth crores of rupees

newspaper-agents-strikeKozhikode: The newspaper agents strike that commenced on March 20th is said to have created loss amounting to crores of rupees for major newspaper dailies. At an INS meeting that was convened recently a major newspapers management stated that it had suffered a loss of 6 crore rupees in merely 5 days. Mathrubhumi and Manorama is said to have 20 crore loss in advertising revenue.

If the strike continues it affect their advertisement revenue immensely. Almost 75 percent of advertising revenue for regional language newspapers in Kerala flows into the hands of Manorama and Mathrubhumi.  Mathrubhumi and Manorama claim to have 15 lakh and 20 lakh circulation respectively. Advertisers have befriended such newspaper publications as they have not been reaching the public for the past eight days.

In an attempt to sabotage the agents strike, newspaper management handed over termination notices to more than 1000 agents. They have also tried to create a parallel agency. Mathrubhumi is circulating their paper through their rejuvenated Mathrubhumi readers forum. They have also garnered in the support of political leaders who have made declarations against the authenticity of the striking agents.

Meanwhile the government has allied with the newspaper management in the battle between the newspaper agents and the management. In a discussion held few days back Labour Minister Shibu Baby John  said that the newspaper distributing agents could not be considered as labourers. The government has accepted the views of the newspaper management.

CITU representative PK Gurudasan, AK Balan, KO Habib met the Labour Minister on March 26, to discuss the current crisis that the newspapers organizations in Kerala are facing. The newspaper managements of various organizations including Manorama and Mathrubhumi refused to participate in the these discussions. The management of various newspapers made it clear that though they had nothing against the government they were unwilling to participate in any discussion as the terms put-forth by the agents were unacceptable to them.

The Minister Shibu Baby John on behalf of the newspaper management  informed the CITU representatives and other union members that the management was willing to sit for discussions only after the agents call off the strike. The problem is viewed as a social issue instead of a clash between the owners and the workers. The union leaders however remained resolute on their stand and refused to call off the strike unless and until a solution was arrived at for their impending problem. The government has stated that it would take a decision only after a the management and agents sit for a discussion and arrive at a consensus. The Minister however assured that the false cases registered against the agents would be removed.



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