The apex body of journalist unions across the country, BFUJ, demanded compensation of at least Taka 50 lakh for every newsman died of Covid-19 and support the treatment of those infected by employers, blasting the media owners' apparent apathy towards the victims.
Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) along with its main affiliate Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ) issued a statement on May 9 following an emergency meeting saying, the Covid-19 so far killed three newsmen and infected over 100 others but until now they received little support from their employers.
The unions issued a 12-point demand asking for appropriate compensations for the dead newsmen, all financial supports for the coronavirus-infected journalists alongside payment of all outstanding dues including festival allowance ahead of the Eid-ul-Fitr.
They expressed indignation against the role of two employers' forums Newspaper Owners' Association of Bangladesh (NOAB) and Association of Television Chanel Owners (ATCO), saying that they even failed to issue a statement to condoling deaths of the Covid-19-infcted newsmen to show a gesture of sympathy.
The statement also criticized the role of Editors Council as even several mainstream media also fired many of their newsmen and workers during the pandemic.
"If the mass media owners fail to ensure newsmen's health protection, pay their outstanding wages and allowances and attempt to retrench workers during this crisis period, the (journalists) union will be forced to opt for tough stance like work stoppage," the statement warned.
It added that if any journalist dies of Covid-19, the concerned employer would have to give at least Taka 50 lakh cash to the victim family as compensation.
"The union will extend their all out supports to affected newsmen's family members if they sue the media owners for declining to shoulder their responsibilities and ensure protection of journalists and media workers," the statement said.
BFUJ President Molla Jalal and Secretary General Shaban Mahmud, and DUJ President Quddus Afrad and General Secretary Sajjad Alam Khan Tapu issued signed the statement after the meeting at Jatiya Press Club (JPC) with Jalal in the chair.
At its very onset, the meeting observed a one-minute silence paying tributes to the memories of journalists Humayun Kabir Khokan, Hahmudul Hakim Apu and Aslam Rahman, who died of Covid-19 and with Covid-19 symptoms.