Nepal’s largest independent publishing house that publishes two biggest newspapers is the latest target of the CPN Maoist
Today’s issues of Kantipur and the Kathmandu Post are without a single advertisement. This is unusual given the fact that Kantipur, Nepal’s largest paper, attracts many pages of advertisements daily in normal circumstances. But yesterday Maoist affiliated trade union blocked the collection and publication of the ads in the papers in their efforts to bring the independent media in their terms in the name of the movement for increase in salary and other benefits. A few months ago, they did the similar act and both papers were forced to publish without a single piece of advertisement. At that time it was not reported in the papers because the management of Kantipur Publications, publisher of Kantipur and the Post, were engaged in talks. On that night, the agitating pro-Maoist workers allowed the printing and participated in the printing process on the 12th hour as the management took the paper in the press in their effort to print the paper ignoring the agitating workers.
Journalists of both Kantipur and the Post are vocally against this disrupt-the-publications-anyhow attitude of the pro-Maoist workers. Journalists believe that this attitude is a threat to the freedom of press that they so hardly fought for in the royal autocratic regime formed after the royal coup of 2005. Ignoring the pro-Maoist workers protests, all reporters are working in the papers to bring out qualitative issues of the papers. The journalists’ main point is even if you want to demand better facilities you can’t stop the publication of the paper or financially harm the publishers.
Yesterday (26 Sept), the management issued an internal memo stating that they were going to start to fulfill the agreement they reached with the Kantipur section of the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) from today. Likewise, they have also raised allowance for delivery boys by Rs. 100 and increased the tea allowance for staffs by Rs. 150.
The Maoist affiliated trade union has been intimidating the newspapers in Kathmandu to fulfill their demands and bring, in their own words, pro-bourgeois big media, into their terms. Reporters feel that they are not really working for the staffs of the publications but promoting the interests of the Maoist party. The Union workers wear t-shirts with the photo of Maoist Chairman Prachanda printed on the chest. Their signboard has the photos of Prachanda and other international communist leaders. Reporters also feel that they are directly or indirectly operated by the Maoist trade union and the party to disrupt the country’s biggest and independent paper. Here is more from today’s issue of the Kathmandu Post:
In yet another attack on press freedom, the Maoist-affiliated trade union at Kantipur Publications has forcefully stopped collection and publication of advertisement since Wednesday (26 September).
“Despite the Publications’ willingness for dialogue and raise in benefits for its employees to the best of its capacity, the union irresponsibly issued an ultimatum Tuesday evening and forcefully stopped advertisement collection from 2 pm on Wednesday,” Kailash Sirohiya, managing director of the publications, said in a statement issued here.
The publications has termed the Maoist trade union’s action a planned and unjustifiable infringement of people’s right to information and has condemned the move. It has vowed to fight against the unjustifiable interference of the union to curtail people’s right to information.
“In the name of getting one’s demands met, the Maoist organization has obstructed advertisement collection and its publication in a bid to bring about the economic collapse of the publications,” the publications further said.
The publications also said the fresh move of the Maoist-aligned All Nepal Communication, Printing and Publications Workers’ Union (ANCPPWU) is the continuation of recent attacks on other media outlets, including Kamana Publications and APCA House.
Maoist trade unions at Kamana and APCA had recently disrupted the publication and circulation of newspapers published by the groups on one pretext or another.
According to the publications, several formal and informal talks were held with the trade union regarding their demands and an understanding was even reached with ANCPPWU.
The latest understanding was reached on September 9 in the presence of representatives of All Nepal Trade Union Federation and the leadership of the union had agreed to ink the agreed understanding on September 10. But they declined to sign the agreement.
The publications further said it has already made its commitment public to implement to the letter the Working Journalists Act and Regulations, which are yet to be enforced. Despite this, the Maoists have tried to close down the publication before the Regulations are in place, which is a sign of Maoist authoritarianism.
The publications also said it would compensate its subscribers if its publications were not delivered on time due to the protests of the trade union.