Residents of Chattogram woke up today to find no issues of five local dailies, including the Dainik Azadi, one of the oldest newspapers in Bangladesh.
The dailies had suspended their publication yesterday following a siege programme by journalists demanding full payment of the Eid bonus.
The four others are Dainik Purbokone, Dainik Purbodesh, Dainik Suprobhat and Bir Chattogram Moncho.
Leaders and activists of the Chattogram Journalist Union (CUJ) laid siege to the house of MA Malek, editor of Dainik Azadi, demanding full Eid bonus, reports our Chattogram correspondent.
All five suspended publication following the siege.
MA Malek told our correspondent that every media house has its own unit committee under the CUJ. "If there is any demand, they can raise it with the editor. This is the procedure," he said.
"Before giving the bonus, I talked to my employees and explained the situation. They agreed to what I said. Not only that, but they received the salary and bonus ahead of Eid," he added.
He asked why they did not observe similar programmes in front of the other editors' residences.
"The dailies of Chattogram will be remaining off print until a compromise is reached between all house units [units formed by CUJ at every media house] and owners," he added.
Contacted, M Shamsul Islam, general secretary of CUJ, told The Daily Star that the suspension was part of the owner's "continuous efforts to deprive the working journalists of their due".
Shamsul said the newspaper owners had reached a consensus in 2015 to implement the 8th Wage Board.
In the last five years, Dainik Azadi gave only one increment instead of five, he said, adding that it had not given any increment or met the other provisions of the 8th Wage Board.
"Before Eid when we came to know about the half bonus, we sent a letter to the newspaper owners' alliance requesting them to sit with CUJ to discuss the way out. When we did not get any answer, we called him over phone but in vain," he added.
CUJ alleged that the owner of Azadi did not permit them to meet him citing the pandemic.
Shamul said they even called the president before CUJ declared the programme, MA Malek had said he would let CUJ know later about the possible time of the meeting but he never called back, he claimed.
"Our first programme was a human chain on July 26 and then we issued an ultimatum -- pay the full bonus by July 28. As the ultimatum expired with no response, we laid siege to the residence," Shamsul said.
CUJ will declare the next programme after Eid.