Strangulation of Radio Pakistan  

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THE management of Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (Radio Pakistan) dispensed with the services of 749 booking/contractual staff with a single stroke of pen on Tuesday, sending shock-waves among employees and diminishing hopes for revival of the past glory of the national broadcaster. The termination letters were issued abruptly in violation of a stay order issued by Lahore High Court and assurances given by Federal Ministers Parvez Khattak and Ali Muhammad Khan to a delegation of staff union that it is not policy of the PTI Government to snatch livelihood from the people.
The issue of contract/daily wage employees of PBC has two dimensions – humanitarian and professional and this is not a simple matter of getting rid of unwanted staff. In the first place, there are moves on the part of the Federal, Punjab and KP Governments to regularize services of certain categories of contract employees like teachers and termination of such a large number of employees of Radio Pakistan is a sheer discriminatory act. It could amount to starvation of thousands of family members of the affected employees and that too in the backdrop of sloganeering by the Government to create more job and livelihood opportunities. Secondly, ever since its inception, like other Radio and Television Channels elsewhere in the world, contract staff works mostly as artistes intrinsically involved in programme and news production/presentation as well as production and moderation of current affairs programmes. The contract employees also play a crucial role in Monitoring and Social Media wings of the Corporation. There is no routine office business in Radio and Television where creativity rules supreme and association of new voices and talent is a must to attract listeners and viewers and to keep pace with the fast-changing requirements of the world of communication. Thirdly, the decision to terminate services of the contract employees is highly discriminatory in nature as staff of only professional wings viz. programme, news and social media has been targeted sparing those having mere a supportive role. Radio Pakistan is already facing huge challenges due to paucity of funds and termination of services of such a large number of talents would amount to further strangulation of the institution. It is ironic that PBC would be saving just Rs. 15 million a year by rendering 749 employees jobless, which is just a peanut as compared to bungling worth 350 million in the pension funds alone. The Government especially Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz ought to take measures to save PBC.
 

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