By MOHAMMED ISMAIL
When the crime was perpetrated in the banking sub-sector, all hell was let loose; now that the crime is being perpetrated by the all powerful media there is a resoundingly deafening silence. Although, the banking industry has a potent reason to embrace casualization of staff in the wake of the global financial meltdown, nobody seemed to have reasoned with it because the policy is in total contravention with the extant labor laws of the land. It seems that the all important issue is swept under the carpet now that the gale of casualisation of staff is sweeping across the print media industry.
In fairness to the civil society and other human rights activists, the whole issue is shrouded in secrecy which makes it difficult for outsiders of the industry to fathom and as if to worsen the plight of the print media workers, the industry is devoid of a labor union that may check the executive excesses of the proprietors of such media organizations. That is why the proprietors of the various media organizations run them with impunity and pay scant regards to the welfare of the workers in almost all ramifications. By default, the media industry should have been at the forefront of promoting justice due to their natural and god given status as the watch dog of the society and especially in line with the immutable saying that “he who comes to equity must come with clean hands”. It is apparent that the media industry has so far come short of fulfilling this revered injunction and high expectation, because their course of action is the very antithesis of natural justice which all of them clamor to pursue vigorously. In most cases, print media outfits are ran by a sinister cabal like vampires whom make life unbearable to anyone who falls outside it no matter how hard he works to justify his day’s earnings. Most print media organizations especially the successful ones have transmogrified to huge rumor mills where only those whom master the art of rumor, sycophancy or those that have god fathers survive.
In some of the media organizations witch-hunting has already relegated decency and decorum to the background. It is therefore a living hell for those without god fathers ditto those who did not master the art of sycophancy.
The irony here is that, the media industry has recorded unprecedented and rapid growth in the last thirteen years due to the advent of the present democratic order that translated into more freedom and fortunes for the fortunate practitioners of the pen profession whom cashed in on the opportunities to make their operations a huge success. At the bottom of that success lies the workers whom must have paid dearly (some with their lives) for their various companies to attain such heights but whom are unfortunately at the receiving end of their proprietors’ ungodly and harsh treatment. It is equally unfortunate that job security is nonexistent in the print media industry today. The print media industry has become so notorious in massive job losses in the country at a time when unemployment and its concomitant ripple effects have bedeviled the country. The fact that a superior director hates you may be all the reason he has for terminating your appointment although without any cogent reason. I am surprised that this brashness is accommodated by the law in a democratic set up where everybody is entitled to fair hearing.
It is high time we establish rule of engagement for the betterment of all of us, so as not to give callous and ungodly pay masters the opportunity to continue to wreck havoc on innocent workers whom at best are daily grappling with the odds to make ends meet and thereby saving the industry from the imminent and ineluctable drift . In fact, total anarchy is looming in the print media industry. Most print media organizations, especially the successful ones, are basking in the euphoria of their success to wreck maximum havoc on the welfare, rights and sensibilities of their staff as if the staff were not party to that success. The proprietors of the media organizations must have been emboldened to commit such heinous atrocities on their teeming workers due to the belief that the long arm of the law will not catch up with them in a country where your might is your right. In fact, the shabby treatment being mated to media workers by the proprietors is so despicably irritating that the intervention of well meaning Nigerians and even the legislative arm is needed in order to rescue those innocent Nigerians working in the various print media from the grip of unscrupulous paymasters, thereby saving them and their future from total destruction.
Although workers’ maltreatment has taken deep roots in most of the successful print media, the form may vary from one medium to another. For instance, while one medium may deem it fit to withhold salary of workers for close to 10 months, another company may deem it fit to pay entitlements as at when due but the workers may be forced to suffer insider abuses and job insecurity to the extent that it is common for a worker to be sacked without any reason and sometimes at the behest of those who perpetrated financial crime in the company, similar to what obtains in the larger society where the criminal elements call the shots. Statistics have shown that the industry has recorded more than average job losses with majority of the workers being punished on puerile, sentimental and even on ethnic considerations. In other media, the workers are treated as if they were slaves to the extent that the threat of imminent sack is always dangled on their heads for no reason or on the commission of slight offence.
As it is now, marketing and advert staff of many print media have been converted to casual staff while others that have not done so are on their course to implementing the obnoxious policy. With the deluge of iniquities being perpetrated against its staff the question on the minds of discerning individuals is; is the media above the law?