Bangladesh Federal Journalists Union BFUJ and Dhaka Journalists Union DUJ leaders said the Newspaper Owners' Association of Bangladesh (NOAB)'s statement is a manifestation of a deep conspiracy to create anarchy in the newspaper industry.
The BFUJ, DUJ leaders, in a joint statement issued on Saturday, said the statement made by NOAB, from the beginning to the end, is false, fabricated, baseless and a deviation from the truth.
Rather, it seems that NOAB leaders are trying to fish in troubled waters by creating an anarchic situation in the country, they added.
"We, if necessary, will wage a strong movement against such a conspiracy with all the member organisations of the federation and the newspaper workers all over the country," said BFUJ President Molla Jalal, Secretary General Shaban Mahmud and DUJ President Quddus Afrad, General Secretary Sajjad Alam Khan Tapu, in the statement.
In the statement, the leaders urged the government to look into whether NOAB's demands are a ploy to destabilise the media or a conspiracy to destabilise the country.
In the essence of NOAB's demands, there is the issue of taking the government hostage and gaining interests as well as depriving journalists of their fair dues, they added.
BFUJ and DUJ said in the current situation, the government should call on all concerned, including newspaper editors, publishers and directors, to take urgent action in consultation with them.
The owners, on Friday, in a media statement demanded incentives, bank loans on easy terms and a stimulus package from the government against the backdrop of Covid-19's onslaught.
BFUJ and DUJ leaders further said there is no relation between the fair rights of journalists, workers and employees and NOAB's giving and taking with the government.
NOAB, in its statement, also said the Wage Board award is unreasonable to justify their demands of the government.
Strongly condemning and protesting this statement, the journalist leaders said long before the establishment of NOAB, there was a wage board award for journalists, workers and employees. Noab needs to keep in mind that wage board awards are state law.
Rather, the trend of breaking the Wage Board Awards Act has started since the NOAB's creation, they added.
Newspapers also have to abide by state laws. The owners of the newspaper industry have to pay the salaries and allowances of journalists, workers and employees according to the existing law of the country. There is no alternative.
The leaders said NOAB, using the Covid-19 situation, is talking about the crisis in the newspaper industry. The owners mentioned the Chattogram incident as an example.
Although newspaper owners enjoyed all the facilities provided by the government for many years, they did not pay employees of their organisation as per the wage board award.
Now they have, under the pretext of Covid-19, started axing jobs, slashing salaries, and not paying salaries.
The BFUJ and DUJ leaders warn that journalists, workers and employees will not allow anyone to fish in troubled waters.