After years of fighting, the journalist got a salary under the Majithia Wage Board

After six years of legal battle, on September 3, 2022, Prabhat Khabar (Neutral Publishing House Limited) paid the outstanding salary into the account of journalist Kunal Priyadarshi.

Kunal, a resident of Muzaffarpur, Bihar, had filed a case against Prabhat Khabar in the Labor Court in December 2017. The company failed to pay even after the decision was in his favor on June 6, 2020. He returned to go to the labor court where the matter was transferred to the civil court. On July 23, 2022, once again, the decision was in his favor.

Kunal became the first journalist in the country to be paid under the Majithia Wage Board with back pay and eight percent interest rate. He got a total of 23 lakh 79 thousand rupees as well as the company will separately put 2 lakh 71 thousand rupees in his EPF account.

After this decision, the expectations of other journalists fighting for the case related to Majithia Wage Board in the country have also increased.

What was the whole issue?

Kunal, 40, started his job as a news writer at the Prabhat Khabar Muzaffarpur unit on July 13, 2011. Considered the best reporter in five years, the company also gave him a special hike in salary . But in the meantime he began to be harassed by a new editor who came. Complaining about this to senior employees of the newspaper, he resigned on December 3, 2017. But the company neither accepted his resignation nor reinstated him.

In December 2017, Kunal complained to the Muzaffarpur Labor Commissioner’s office. In June 2019, the matter was transferred to the Muzaffarpur Labor Court. The order was in their favor on February 8, 2020, and the order was announced on June 6, 2020. The court asked the company to make the payment within two months, but the company did not make any payment.

Thereafter, Kunal applied for enforcement of the award in the labor court under Section 11(10) of the Industrial Disputes Act. From there, the matter was sent to the Muzaffarpur civil court, where the hearing began on February 7, 2021. During the hearing, the company raised questions about the enforcement process, but the court accepted the request for enforcement on July 23, 2022, considering the journalist’s arguments to be correct, and decided to start the process of recovering the prize money. .

The Prabhat Khabar has not yet accepted Kunal’s resignation. Due to this, Kunal could not find a job anywhere else. In the notice sent to the company, he has said that he must be reinstated in the workplace as his resignation has not yet been accepted. However, there was no response from the newspaper in this regard.

Defending themselves due to a bad economic situation

When Kunal was working, he used to live in Muzaffarpur, but after quitting his job, he returned to his village because he had no income. He has two daughters aged eight and nine, a four-year-old son and his wife who lives with him in the village. He took a loan of 2.5 lakh rupees from LIC to manage the house and about two lakh rupees from his relatives.

Kunal explains, “Since I had no money, I decided to defend myself. From the labor court to the civil court, there was pressure everywhere. When Majithia read the cases going on in the court under the Wage Board, he found that these cases are kept for a long time.It was not possible to make a lawyer for so long because if you have taken a loan for your own food then how would you pay the lawyer.

He says: “If you’re a journalist, you used to study for the company, now study for yourself. After that, Majithia read all the cases given by the Supreme Court on the pay board, and then argued.

He says he also applied for jobs at many other places, but was unable to get another job because he would not accept the resignation. The other company used to ask for the pay slip and NOC which they didn’t have. So he didn’t get the job. Due to the fight against Majithia’s second pay board case, no newspaper wanted to employ Kunal. He sent notices to Prabhat Khabar to give him the job three times.

Meghratwara, 40 km from Muzaffarpur district, is the village of Kunal. He used to travel from town to town in connection with the case. He says: “After I quit my job, the family never asked for anything. There are small children but they never kept us in any demand, be it birthdays or parties. He always said that when you go to the office we will have a birthday party. The 4-year-old youngest son asks: Dad, aren’t you going to the office?

During the Corona period, Kunal also became a victim of depression after quitting his job in 2021. After taking the medicine for about 6 months, he got cured.

Kunal says, “When the case was going on, an offer was made by Prabhat newspaper. During the settlement process, the company said it will pay seven lakh rupees and 40 thousand months’ salary. But for this it will have to a new contract. But we said that if we talk about reinstatement to the wage board, then we can join, but that didn’t happen.

According to the Majithia Pay Board, Kunal’s salary should have been Rs 76 thousand in 2017, but the company was offering only Rs 40 thousand. On which the Labor Board judge refused to agree. In May 2022, the company once again offered Kunal this time eight lakh rupees and asked him to quit both the job and the case.

Kunal’s total salary was Rs 7 thousand in 2011, which increased to Rs 27 thousand in 2017. While under Majithia Wage Board, the journalist should have received Rs 76,000 per month.

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It is not that Kunal alone has to face all these problems. Many journalists in the country are fighting cases under the Majithia Wage Board demanding salary, but unfortunately, despite fighting the case for many years, the journalists have not been paid. At the same time, in some cases, despite the decision in favor of journalists, they do not have all the money.

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