Press Freedom Advocacy Association in Iraq observed high salary cuts in media bodies, in addition to this reduction, large numbers of members of media cadres have been relieved from their duties without prior notice nor compensation.
Despite the fact that availability of accurate figures seems unrealistic given the recent situation, but the association had reached the fact that the numbers of reduction and affected members of personnel in 2016 are less than those of 2015; nevertheless remaining high.
600 journalists were dismissed during the period between November 2015 and October 2016, including editors, correspondents, cameramen, broadcasters, and daily programs presenters.
Four media bodies were dissolved this year, as an addition to the recently ten ones that were closed in 2015.
- Closed media bodies:
- Alfayhaa Channel: MP Mohammed Altaii, announced that the channel be closed due to financial shortage, after dismissing a large number of its personnel, accordingly the channel is facing a court crisis due to the large number of lawsuits filed against it.
- Albaghdadiya channel: the channel was closed last April, after the closure of its main office in Cairo by the Egyptian authorities due to political pressure imposed from Baghdad thus it was deprived broadcasting via Nile Sat Satellite.
- Almashriq newspaper: it was closed at the beginning of this year and resumed function and was released again upon merging with another institution to control its financial issues. This step was preceded with a large number of dismissed members of staff, and salary cuts.
- Alistiqama Newspaper: this paper publication was transformed into an electronic version after dismissing 25 of its personnel. Then the electronic version was closed and the remaining five members were relieved from their duties as editors.
- Aliraq Ahurr Radio: closed at the end of 2015; Baghdad office was closed and two in the provinces. No details provided about the number or fate of its cadre.
- Alitijah English Channel: closed for financial issues, part of its cadre was relieved, and another part merged with the Arabic channel. It was closed in 2015, beyond the report’s scope.
We draw attention to the fact that many E-agencies and media institutions were closed this year due to financial failure.
2nd: media bodies that reduced cadre and salaries.
- Alfurat Channel: half of the cadre reduced and salaries dropped 30%, with a continuous attitude of payment delay. On a related level Furat radio dismissed five editors.
- Alzaman Newspaper: 20% salary reduction.
- Almada Satellite Channel: more than 100 dismissed including correspondents, cameramen, and proofreaders.
- Amada Press Agency: all provincial cadres dismissed and workers adopted freelancing system.
- Alrashid Channel: 20% reduction in salaries.
- Alahad Channel: 5% salary reduction and payment was converted to ID after it was paid in USD.
- Almasar Channel: at least seven editors and correspondents were dismissed whereas salaries cut by 30%.
- Dijlah Channel: 25% salary reduction.
- Huna Baghdad Channel: 80% cadre reduction and 30% salary reduction.
- Alitijah Channel: 5% salary reduction after converting payment into IQD.
- Dimozy Radio: more than 60% reduction in cadre and salaries.
- Tariq Alshaab Newspaper: cadre and Journal pp. reduced to half.
- Alsabbah Aljadid Newspaper: cadre reduced to minimum where only three editors were left. Freelancing was adopted as a system for payment instead of monthly wages, whereas payment per article or feature story was also reduced to ID 10 after paying ID 25 before reduction.
- Altaakhi Newspaper: reopened after reducing cadre and salaries.
- Alsumeria Channel: low reduction in editors and cameramen but salaries witnessed continuous delay reaching to four months; resulting in its cadre seeking other stable paying media bodies.
- Alsharqiya Channel: under the title of reducing expenses, two of Baghdad office personnel were dismissed.
- Aldar Radio / Basrah: 15 members of staff were dismissed and promised to be returned after Islamic months Muharram and Saffar ended.
- Times Square Radio/ Basrah: 3 members of staff were dismissed without explanation. The institution insists on not signing any contracts with personnel.
Main reasons of employees’ dismissal:
- Ending or reduction of resources for politically financed media bodies because of the general financial crisis in the country due to drop in oil prices.
- No Governmental commercials
- Absence of motive; some media bodies were established for electoral purposes. Many agencies were closed for the same reasons.
The Association’s standpoint:
The means adopted by media bodies to control and manage their financial crises are considered humiliating and moreover they represent a grave violation to the stipulation of the Iraqi constitution concerning employment regulations and statues.
The association is fully aware of the financial crisis that swept the country recently but at the same time it holds all the aforementioned media bodies responsible for the instant dismissal of their staffs, and exposing lives of hundreds to living complications, first, they do not comply with the Iraqi regulations that demand contracting bases for employment where contractual periods are specified according to both sides’ will.
The association demands that all dismissed media workers receive their dues especially that they hold the right to sue their employers; the association promises its legal support to all those dismissed illegally. The formal website would provide them with contact information for this purpose. The association noticed that many other media bodies are imposing this unsecure working environment upon its employees burdening the risk of dismissal at any point.
Background: Job security 2015
Press Freedom Advocacy Association in Iraq issued its 2015 report in October about job security that revealed the closure of eight media bodies and dismissing more than 900 journalists during less than one year. The association noticed that some media bodies resumed function after the reduction phase, despite the general financial crisis that the country is witnessing, this exposes the chaotic and unsystematic foundations of these bodies.
The association’s follow up on relieved cadres showed that most of them either left the country, are working as daily paid workers, or remained jobless till now.