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By Sunita SamarooAs the new government continues in its efforts to protect workers, the Ministry of Social Protection is pushing to bring media entities in line with existing, but oftentimes ignored labour laws.(From Left) Consultant within the Ministry’s Labour Department, Francis Carryl, Junior Social Protection Minister, Simona Broomes and Assistant Chief Labour Officer, Lydia Green engaging media operatives yesterday.Long hours marred by no compensation or overtime, inadequate protection, problems with annual leave and days-off as well as improper record-keeping were among the issues being discussed yesterday as media operatives gathered with officials from the Ministry at their Brickdam, Georgetown office to discuss the state of affairs in the media, from a labour perspective.The engagement was headed by Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection,Cheap Jerseys From China, Simona Broomes along with Assistant Chief Labour Officer, Lydia Green and Consultant within the Ministry’s Labour Department, Francis Carryl.The meeting was part of the continued efforts of the Ministry to engage employers and employees as well as one where discussions on policies and engagement on areas where help is needed, could be discussed.The Junior Social Protection Minister highlighted that reporters are workers willingly going beyond the call of duty and they deserve to be recognised.“People think a reporter is just about running out there and writing a story. Well I have no apologies. I really condemn the manner in which reporters were being referred to and treated in the past by the past government. For me, you are very important, and because of that we cannot go without recognizing the importance of you, the reporters out there.”She said reporters are dissatisfied that the law is not protecting them, and the Ministry will correct that.“With media houses, you find that over time it is a problem. Most workers would say that they have to work beyond the regular time, but the overtime is not given to them. Workers have complained about annual leave, days off and we have also, in our inspection, come across with proper records not being kept: the leave roster, the wages book, the timesheet and more so what is not common is proper lunch areas and the conditions in which persons  operate and work,” the Minister disclosed.These things will change, Minister Broomes assured.“We are not doing this because we want to put a deadlock on the employers, but without you (the reporters), there is no news; without the employees, there is no newspaper. It is not only the employers that are important here but the employees. You are moreso very valuable,” Broomes said.“Reporters have been making a difference in the country, in human rights and in every area and because of the value you carry, like all the other workers, I want to ensure you are being treated fairly and right,” the Minister added.STATE MEDIAIt was raised that most state media operatives bore the brunt of labour violations with the Guyana Chronicle, National Communications Network (NCN) and Government Information Agency (GINA) being thrust into focus.The Minister stated that reporters from the state agencies are more afraid and it was brought to her attention that their employees were being disallowed from accessing the Guyana Press Association (GPA).“We cannot have workers and their rights are being violated because they are from the state media,” said Broomes as she added that labour inspections will be conducted on all media houses.Carryl offered that media functionaries are affected by fear of victimization, whether by agents of the state or private entities. A number of anonymous complaints (letters without signatures) have been forwarded to the Ministry from media operatives, it was revealed.“It would not be fair for us to convince ourselves that all is well out there,” he said, adding “I have had to intervene in a very huge matter where workers were being ill-treated, dismissed at random and you may very well find that in the private media people are treated worse than in the state media.”“Media workers are very unhappy, whether in the state or in private,” the Labour Department Consultant commented.LONG HOURS, NO COMPENSATION  The life of a media worker is usually characterized by irregular working hours; well beyond the eight hours stipulated in local laws.But after eight hours of work, media operatives receive no overtime. For some media houses, staffers receive extra for working on Sundays and holidays. But it was pointed out that in some private media houses, the same does not apply.It was said that in private entities, reporters can work up to seven days a week, without increases or compensations.To this, the Minister said,Wholesale NFL Jerseys China, “The Law is clear. Eight hours and anytime after that eight hours is overtime.” Broomes acknowledged that some employers offer packages to compensate the employees, but this she insisted should be clear to those under their charge and it should be in a policy.Probation periods too where reporters are “put through the ropes” but having to work every day, without days off, are also issues that were brought forward to the Minister. No compensations for working on days-off were also discussed.POLICYThe Minister emphasized that while news comes at anytime, “that does not take away from the workers’ rights. It is for your employer to have an arrangement of fair policy with the employee as to how that will work-out but it should not be a hand-down approach.”She emphasized that her role as Minister is to be that peacemaker between employers and employees. “I cannot bargain, I cannot give away the rights because of any reason,” she said as she added that the issues overwhelming media operatives ought to be addressed on a Ministry-Media house basis.“I don’t want to affect people’s businesses; I want to have happy employers and employees. If the employees are not happy then we still have a problem,Cheap Jerseys Free Shipping,” added Broomes. The objective, she emphasized,Clark Griswold Jersey, is to bring a balance between the employers and employees.BUSINESS PEOPLE DRIVING THE MEDIAIt was highlighted that many of the media houses operate on a profit basis as they are driven by businesspeople.“Our concern is that we have too many complaints to mention from employees in media houses across the board and we are going to address them,” Broomes emphasized.It was said that the owners should know that they are not exempt from consequences.GPA, UNIONSThe Minister said while they intend on meeting with the Guyana Press Association (GPA), the media operatives brought their complaints to the Ministry and they would have to contact the top brass of the various media houses.From all indications, a number of employees have recorded their dissatisfaction “off the record”.“Once these complaints are here, we have to deal with them and there are numerous complaints,” the Junior Social Protection stressed. Employees, she said,Cheap NFL Jerseys Store, feel that they are being short-changed, and unrepresented.“This fear that they have within them,Cheap Jerseys From China, it should not be,” said Broomes.Media operatives are represented by the Clerical and Commercial Workers Union. Guyana Chronicle and NCN workers also have their own union body. But yesterday’s discussion revealed that many media operatives are unaware of this.EMPLOYERS’ PROTECTIONEmployers who attended highlighted too that they should also be protected.The Minister urged employees to consider “An employee has to go beyond the call of duty; they are taken away from their families: they have children. While they are at work, they are unprotected, they are left somewhere. Most of these places don’t have a daycare. You have a husband, you have a wife, but your home is breaking up and all of that: that is a sacrifice. Then, are we going to consider a package that goes along with that salary that the employee will feel satisfied? Rather than have that employee just work beyond like you’re nobody and you have to do your work.”The Minister warned too against labour trafficking.“Let us come back to the table where we are equal,” said the Minister as she indicated interest in meeting with heads of media houses. The Minister opined that if packages are placed along with the salaries, reporters will be more inclined to stay.Assistant Chief Labour Officer, Lydia Green, said the Ministry is often looked upon as if they are waging a war against employers. She discredited that belief, stating that the Ministry would only be acting in the capacity of the enforcement agency.“We have to ensure that the laws are being kept and if they are not being kept then we have to answer why the employers and employees are not abiding by the law.” The law, she said, is structured for all in the framework of the workplace.The employer must ensure that his workplace must have conditions that would not affect the workers mentally, physically, socially. The workplace, she said, must be conducive for work. “Business people are employers and the law governs them also.”The Ministry will host a training workshop next Wednesday, seeking to engage media owners and operatives.
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