The High Court yesterday issued status quo for two months on publication of gazette notification on implementing the recommendations of 9th wage board for journalists.
The court also issued a rule asking the respondents to explain why the unilateral finalisation of the award by the 9th wage board without giving the stakeholders opportunity to raise objections to the recommendations should not be declared illegal.
In the rule, the HC also asked the respondents to show cause why sending such recommendations to government for the final publication of the gazette notification should not be declared without lawful authority.
The cabinet committee for finalisation of 9th wage board award, represented by its convener -- road transport and bridges minister, secretaries to the ministries of information and labor and employment, and chairman of 9th newspaper wage board have been made respondents to the rule.
The HC bench of Justice Obaidul Hassan and Justice Mohammad Ali passed the order and issued the rule following a writ petition filed by the Newspaper Owners’ Association of Bangladesh (Noab) -- challenging the legality of the 9th wage board and its recommendation.
Following the HC order, the government cannot implement the recommendations, Advocate Md Yousuf Ali, lawyer for Noab, told The Daily Star.
Contacted, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said his office will move an appeal before the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court against the HC order.
Citing the writ petition, Advocate Yousuf Ali said the chairman of 9th wage board finalised the award unilaterally, without first publishing a gazette notification complying with the provision of Rule 128 of the Bangladesh Labour Rules, 2015, enabling stakeholders concerned to submit their respective objections, if any.
The award determined by the respondents in absence of the petitioner in the process of the wage board is absolutely unilateral, mala fide and arbitrary, so it cannot be allowed to be finalised and published in the gazette notification without final scrutiny of the HC, he added.
On July 25 this year, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader had said a cabinet committee on 9th wage board award for newspaper and news agency journalists and other employees has finalised its report for cabinet endorsement.
Quader, who heads the seven-member cabinet committee, had told newsmen “after the final approval [by the cabinet], a gazette will be published” for its implementation.
Writ petitioner’s lawyer said the labour ministry is responsible for the formation of the wage board as per the rules of business issued by the president. But the 9th wage board has been formed by the information ministry in violation of the rules of business, he said citing the writ petition.
The government on January 29 last year constituted the 9th wage board to propose enhanced salary and other benefits for journalists and other employees of newspapers and news agencies.
The owners who were made members of the body are: Newspaper Owners’ Association of Bangladesh president Matiur Rahman, vice-president AK Azad, treasurer Motiur Rahman Chowdhury, members Mahfuz Anam and Tasmima Hossain, and convener of Bangladesh Sangbadpatra Parishad MG Kibria Chowdhury.