Journalist unions protest as Daily Express lays off staff in Islamabad

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ISLAMABAD – The Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ) on Saturday staged a sit-in outside the offices of Urdu language newspaper Daily Express that reportedly laid off nearly 30 employees.
The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) had called for staging the protest.
The management told staff members to submit their resignations stating they were doing so of their own will if they wanted to get paid two-month salaries.
One employee said he served at the newspaper for 14 years. “I was a bachelor when I arrived here, and now I am married with three kids. It is heart-breaking to get fired like this.”
Ali Raza Alvi, Secretary of RIUJ, said the union would set up the protest camp daily from 6:00 pm till late every day, and also boycott Monday’s proceedings of the National Assembly.
He also announced holding a protest outside the Parliament House on Tuesday if the management did not accept their demands.
Afzal Butt, President of PFUJ, said it was a pity that employees who served for many years in the organization were informed through an email their services were no longer required.
He said they chose to protest peacefully outside the Express offices, although they could have locked it up, or the McDonald’s outlet in F-9 Park that the group owns.
Butt called on the management to follow the rules. “If you go by the book, we will do the same. If you do not, we will lock up your businesses,” he warned.
Earlier this month, the media group fired Daily Express news editor and four sub-editors at its Peshawar center while in November, the management asked two reporters to leave.
Also, in January, the media house shut down its English language television channel Tribune 24-7 rendering over a 100 employees jobless.
The group had merged Daily Express reporting team with the Express Tribune and Express News Television a few months ago.
The organization that used to have separate reporters for all its different outlets reporting on a single beat has now introduced a different pattern to cut costs.
For example, a reporter for Express News TV covering the foreign office beat would post his story in a WhatsApp group. It would then be picked up by the television channel, Daily Express and The Express Tribune, and also the web.
An insider says the management plans to run the Daily Express through a single newsroom out of Lahore.
The managers have also slapped pay cuts on Express News staff with those drawing a salary of over Rs100000 facing a 10 percent cut, and a 15 percent slash in pay for those earning over Rs200000.

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