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Lay offs, salary cuts continue even as PM asks employers to be compassionate to employees

Jobs cut across start-ups, IT companies and major media houses 

Karuna John 14 Apr 2020

Jobs

Prime Minister Narendra Modi once again reminded employers to, “be compassionate towards the people who work with you in your business or industry.” In his latest address to the nation he instructed them to take care of those they employ, “do not deprive them of their livelihood.” 

However, the employers seem to be in no mood to listen to the PM himself, and have begun cutting their losses in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic. The PM’s gentle reminder has come too late for many who have been handed pink slips without a notice, or an adequate severance package, or have been forced to take steep pay cuts by their employers. And these are not migrant workers we are talking about. This is the trained middle-class force that works in organised sectors across the economy. The most affected industries thus far have been start ups, information and technology, and the media, and scores more which so far have gone under the radar but will likely emerge soon as the Coronavirus lockdown enters the second phase that will last till May 3, when the next salary payment cycle begins.   

For the Indian media, where the impact has been sudden and massive, the blow has come at a time when information and reportage of the Coronavirus pandemic is facing the biggest challenges. Rumours of impending sackings, and pay cuts have been going on for a while since the lockdown began, and advertisement revenue fell, but the impact was felt as pay day of April 1 dawned. It was then widely reported how journalists at the Indian Indian Express were informed that they will have to take a massive pay cut, according to their income grades. Though they felt the pinch, journalists there were glad they still had jobs. A similar pay cut was reported at the  Business Standard newspaper where the staff was asked to take salary cuts. The higher the salary, the steeper the pay cut. Of course there is a freeze on fresh hirings.

Then came the news Bloomberg Quint too emailed employees to inform them of steep salary cuts that will be in force this month. According to messages from journalists, a normal salary cycle is ‘expected’ there from May onwards. Again, this seems manageable to most journalists who planned to tighten their budgets as long as they knew they had a job to go back to once the lockdown restrictions were gradually lifted.

Meanwhile, popular newsmagazine Outlook has stopped print publication, and newspapers like Hindustan Times reduced and merged the city supplements into the main paper. But, their arch rival Times of India went one step ahead and sacked an entire features team that brought out Life, the glossy Sunday supplement of the paper. Its editor Nona Walia took to Facebook to share what happened. One phone call, and the entire team of Life was asked to leave.  

Things appeared a little ‘better’ at the newsportal Quint, where it is said that around 45 members of the 200-strong team have been sent on furlough, or mandatory leave without pay from April 15, until further notice. They will be paid a half-month’s salary and have apparently been told they can also request an advance “equal to one month’s salary” from the Human resource department. Hopefully no one will be retrenched  here, but the future is yet to unfold as the financial strains are likely to continue for months after the lockdown is lifted.

Others have not been lucky enough to even have that  option. A case in point was Hamara Mahanagar, Hindi newspaper from Mumbai, that is said to have shut down on March 18 citing 'poor business viability'. And Kasturi, a news channel from Karnataka, that shut down operations recently. 

However, the biggest shocker came from the right leaning television channel News Nation that  terminated 16 employees of its English digital edition, a couple of days ago. This was a surprise even to the former Information and Broadcasting minister and Congress Member of Parliament Manish Tewari who wrote to the current minister Prakash Javdekar asking him that the ministry issue an “advisory with regard to the Employment paradigm in Media Industry. My apprehension unfortunately are turning out to be correct as lot’s of Jurno’s & other Media Employees are already reporting layoffs”

 

 

He had earlier raised the issue of the layoffs at News Nation. However, he later clarified that he had been “apprised that the decision to retrench English Digital Team was taken as they are a Hindi Channel & therefore they have hired a Hindi Digital Team. I was further informed that this entire operation was planned in advance for 31st March-2020. I understand the logic”. However why the channel then hired a team of journalists for an English digital version in the first place, defies all logic.

As this post by Nagendar Sharma suggests it would have been good if the PM had said a few words to the well heeled owners of the media houses to be responsible employers. “message from PM to Maliks/Malkins of media houses would be enough to save the jobs of foot soldiers in media. They are all eating out of the PM's hands and can’t say NO to him. Will PM give the message ? No, I guess” 

 

 

These sackings, and forced salary cuts have already had a ripple effect across the media, big and small, across the country, with anxious staffers, and freelancers wondering if they will survive this side effect of the pandemic.

Similar fears continue for those employed, and running start ups as salary cuts have begun and job losses loom large.

Journalist Sangeeta Tanwar writes in The Quartz about how startups have suffered under India’s coronavirus lockdown, “Over 25% of these companies have already announced across-the-board pay-cuts, according to a recent survey of CEOs. Another 37% are “actively considering” such a step. The survey was conducted by Praxis Global Alliance, a Gurugram-based management consulting and market research firm, in the last two weeks of March and included 50 Indian startup CEOs from across the country.”

According to a Deccan Herald report by Chiranjeevi Kulkarni, IT employees are crying foul against job and salary cuts they have been subjected to. According to this report many IT companies have already been cutting salaries, in defiance of the government order which had said this should not be done when the Coronavirus lockdown was enforced.

However, no one knows if the situation will even be near normal once the lockdown is lifted, “I am so scared of what will happen after May 3. That will be a bloodbath. There will be more sackings, and more business’ will close down,” says Jayant Dasgupto who works in a Gurgaon startup.  This is the common sentiment of the working class, who have complied with the lockdown and worked from home.

 

Lay offs, salary cuts continue even as PM asks employers to be compassionate to employees

Jobs cut across start-ups, IT companies and major media houses 

Jobs

Prime Minister Narendra Modi once again reminded employers to, “be compassionate towards the people who work with you in your business or industry.” In his latest address to the nation he instructed them to take care of those they employ, “do not deprive them of their livelihood.” 

However, the employers seem to be in no mood to listen to the PM himself, and have begun cutting their losses in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic. The PM’s gentle reminder has come too late for many who have been handed pink slips without a notice, or an adequate severance package, or have been forced to take steep pay cuts by their employers. And these are not migrant workers we are talking about. This is the trained middle-class force that works in organised sectors across the economy. The most affected industries thus far have been start ups, information and technology, and the media, and scores more which so far have gone under the radar but will likely emerge soon as the Coronavirus lockdown enters the second phase that will last till May 3, when the next salary payment cycle begins.   

For the Indian media, where the impact has been sudden and massive, the blow has come at a time when information and reportage of the Coronavirus pandemic is facing the biggest challenges. Rumours of impending sackings, and pay cuts have been going on for a while since the lockdown began, and advertisement revenue fell, but the impact was felt as pay day of April 1 dawned. It was then widely reported how journalists at the Indian Indian Express were informed that they will have to take a massive pay cut, according to their income grades. Though they felt the pinch, journalists there were glad they still had jobs. A similar pay cut was reported at the  Business Standard newspaper where the staff was asked to take salary cuts. The higher the salary, the steeper the pay cut. Of course there is a freeze on fresh hirings.

Then came the news Bloomberg Quint too emailed employees to inform them of steep salary cuts that will be in force this month. According to messages from journalists, a normal salary cycle is ‘expected’ there from May onwards. Again, this seems manageable to most journalists who planned to tighten their budgets as long as they knew they had a job to go back to once the lockdown restrictions were gradually lifted.

Meanwhile, popular newsmagazine Outlook has stopped print publication, and newspapers like Hindustan Times reduced and merged the city supplements into the main paper. But, their arch rival Times of India went one step ahead and sacked an entire features team that brought out Life, the glossy Sunday supplement of the paper. Its editor Nona Walia took to Facebook to share what happened. One phone call, and the entire team of Life was asked to leave.  

Things appeared a little ‘better’ at the newsportal Quint, where it is said that around 45 members of the 200-strong team have been sent on furlough, or mandatory leave without pay from April 15, until further notice. They will be paid a half-month’s salary and have apparently been told they can also request an advance “equal to one month’s salary” from the Human resource department. Hopefully no one will be retrenched  here, but the future is yet to unfold as the financial strains are likely to continue for months after the lockdown is lifted.

Others have not been lucky enough to even have that  option. A case in point was Hamara Mahanagar, Hindi newspaper from Mumbai, that is said to have shut down on March 18 citing 'poor business viability'. And Kasturi, a news channel from Karnataka, that shut down operations recently. 

However, the biggest shocker came from the right leaning television channel News Nation that  terminated 16 employees of its English digital edition, a couple of days ago. This was a surprise even to the former Information and Broadcasting minister and Congress Member of Parliament Manish Tewari who wrote to the current minister Prakash Javdekar asking him that the ministry issue an “advisory with regard to the Employment paradigm in Media Industry. My apprehension unfortunately are turning out to be correct as lot’s of Jurno’s & other Media Employees are already reporting layoffs”

 

 

He had earlier raised the issue of the layoffs at News Nation. However, he later clarified that he had been “apprised that the decision to retrench English Digital Team was taken as they are a Hindi Channel & therefore they have hired a Hindi Digital Team. I was further informed that this entire operation was planned in advance for 31st March-2020. I understand the logic”. However why the channel then hired a team of journalists for an English digital version in the first place, defies all logic.

As this post by Nagendar Sharma suggests it would have been good if the PM had said a few words to the well heeled owners of the media houses to be responsible employers. “message from PM to Maliks/Malkins of media houses would be enough to save the jobs of foot soldiers in media. They are all eating out of the PM's hands and can’t say NO to him. Will PM give the message ? No, I guess” 

 

 

These sackings, and forced salary cuts have already had a ripple effect across the media, big and small, across the country, with anxious staffers, and freelancers wondering if they will survive this side effect of the pandemic.

Similar fears continue for those employed, and running start ups as salary cuts have begun and job losses loom large.

Journalist Sangeeta Tanwar writes in The Quartz about how startups have suffered under India’s coronavirus lockdown, “Over 25% of these companies have already announced across-the-board pay-cuts, according to a recent survey of CEOs. Another 37% are “actively considering” such a step. The survey was conducted by Praxis Global Alliance, a Gurugram-based management consulting and market research firm, in the last two weeks of March and included 50 Indian startup CEOs from across the country.”

According to a Deccan Herald report by Chiranjeevi Kulkarni, IT employees are crying foul against job and salary cuts they have been subjected to. According to this report many IT companies have already been cutting salaries, in defiance of the government order which had said this should not be done when the Coronavirus lockdown was enforced.

However, no one knows if the situation will even be near normal once the lockdown is lifted, “I am so scared of what will happen after May 3. That will be a bloodbath. There will be more sackings, and more business’ will close down,” says Jayant Dasgupto who works in a Gurgaon startup.  This is the common sentiment of the working class, who have complied with the lockdown and worked from home.

 

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