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Sakaal Times shuts down Delhi operations without notice, leaves employees in the lurch

Sakaal Times shuts down Delhi operations without notice, leaves employees in the lurch

The Delhi operations of the Sakaal Times of the Pune-based Sakaal Media Group have been closed down without informing employees in advance.

On November 30, the newspaper's journalists were taken aback to find the office locked and a lockout notice pasted on the doors. The anger of the 70-odd employees is not so much about the shutdown but that the Sakaal management did not inform them personally about the drastic measure. Their belongings are still inside, they have no idea about pending salaries or compensation, and jobs to look for in an industry that is no longer booming.

Senior Pune management, the employees said in a statement, had switched off their phones. The lockout, they said, was illegal as they had not followed labour laws. The owner of Sakaal Times is Abhijit Pawar, nephew of NCP leader and Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, whose daughter Supriya Sule is on the board of Sakal Papers Ltd.

The closure notice read:

The new daily is incurring heavy expenses on Delhi operations resulting into substantial losses to the company. You are aware that this is further compounded by the present serious downtrend in the economy. Due to the same the circulation and the revenue generation of the newspaper has been seriously affected. Due to this it has become inevitable for the company to restructure its operations. On account of the said restructuring the editorial work so far carried out at Delhi is no longer required to be continued. As a result, the operations are stopped forthwith and the persons working for Sakaal Times operations are being relieved. The necessary communication has already been sent to the individual employees on their postal address registered with the company. The relevant employees need not attend the office from today onwards.

The work of magazines and TV will continue after some modifications of the premises for which the same will be closed for few days.

This morning the management finally dispatched a team to negotiate with the employees. The Sakaal group has offered three month's salary as compensation to the employees, according to KK Laskar, convenor of the employees' action committee that has been formed to fight for the rights of employees. Laskar said they initially asked for a compensation of one year, but might finally settle down for nine-months' salary.

Laskar, the chief photographer of the paper during its Delhi operations, expressed outrage at the manner in which the management had dealt with the issue. He described the Sakaal Media Group's action as "disgraceful and thoroughly unprofessional." The lockout notice was issued by an "authorised signatory" who was not named. The resident editor, Dhananjay Sardeshpande, had not been coming to office for the past week.

A journalist, who had given up a secure job with another newspaper to join the Sakaal Times which was launched with much fanfare in May this year, said, "This usually how fly-by-night chit funds operate. But this kind of a behaviour by a media house is deplorable."

The employees are planning protests tomorrow, Tuesday.

Date posted: December 1, 2008 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 721