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 Up loaded on Thursday November 25, 2010

 AIR-DD staff union threatens indefinite strike from Dec 13


                New Delhi: With no hearing to their grievances as a result of the 48-hours strike, the 38,000-strong employees’ union of Prasar Bharati—the public broadcaster—has decided to intensify its struggle into an indefinite strike. The employees union have given a 17-day ultimatum to the government to either meet their demand of repealing of the Prasar Bharati Act, 1990 or face indefinite strike.

              Starting December13, the union will again go on strike for 72 hours which would culminate into an indefinite strike thereafter, an official of the Doordarshan and AIR's employee union told FE. In such an event, the entire transmission of Doordarshan kendras and AIR's radio network could virtually shut down, something which has not happened anywhere in the world, Prasar Bharati sources said.

            The current strike called by the National Federation of Akashvani and Doordarshan Employees (NFADE) disrupted the services of AIR and Doordarshan at all its 1,800 stations across the country bringing to halt the regular programming. In several states, the high and low-power transmitters of Doordarshan remained switched off, a NFADE functionary said.

            According to the NFADE, the existence of the Prasar Bharati Act and its provisions have disrupted the functioning of the employees of AIR and Doordarshan. Also, delay in the disbursement of salaries, non-maintenance of technical equipments, and poor service conditions have created more problems than solutions for the public broadcaster under the act.

             The current 48-hour strike paralysed the services AIR and DD across north east, West Bengal, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala among other states. In Delhi, the AIR and Doordarshan employees did not enter the offices. As a result, only recorded programmes are on air on AIR and Doordarshan. Also, several AIR stations in various states have also gone off-air, the first time in independent India.

           Prasar Bharati, which runs mostly on the grants and loans provided by the Centre, is staring at an estimated financial loss of Rs 3 crore on each day of the strike.“We hoped that the I&B ministry will call us to hear our problems and offer a way forward. No one from the ministry has contacted us so far. If our concerns are not addressed, an indefinite strike will be the only recourse,” said Kulbhushan Bhatia, the secretary general of NFADE.

          However, sources in the I&B ministry said Prasar Bharati is an autonomous body and its problems can only be addressed by the Prasar Bharati board. “The I&B ministry cannot interfere in the workings of Prasar Bharati or the problems of its employee union. As far as the demand for repeal of the act goes, the matter was put before the Group of Ministers,” a source in the I&;B ministry told FE.

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