Khabarnegaran.info-Niki Azad: Local journalist Mahdieh Amiri speaks of the hardships of practicing journalism in the southern Iranian province of Bushehr. Amiri has been working as a journalist in Bushehr for years. Since 2007, she has been the editor-in-chief of a few local websites, biweekly and quarterly magazines. She is now the editor-in-chief of hamooniran.com website and Ava-ye Dashtestan biweekly.
Retirement regulations for early retiring jobs
Do journalists retire?30 March 2012
translated by Rose Arjmand
Khabarnegaran.info-He is a lecturer at a university and teaches reporting. He says: “My name is Ghazizadeh. I have started journalism as my career in 1969. It is over 40 years that I joined the field of media. However, my retirement and pension plans show only 17 years of works. The reason why I could not continue my retirement planning is that all those newspapers that sponsored me for my retirement planning are closed down now. At the age of 60, I must work for another 14 years to complete my 30-year pension plan and retire myself at the age of 74.”
She is a veteran reporter from Iran’s southern Brusher province. After 48 years of work experience I have no insurance, pension or retirement planning. A local newspaper had sponsored me for my retirement planning for a few years, which was cut since a few months back.”
He is a young journalist who started his career 10 years ago. He says: “if you calculated all the months that newspapers sponsored me for my retirement planning, it will not be longer than 2 years. I do not have any idea how long I must work to meet the retirement criteria.”
Usually when someone wants to describe a job as a difficult job, they say: “this job is the second hardest job after mining.” Journalism is one of them. Although the social service system in Iran has categorized it as a hard job, the ratified supporting law has never been practiced. The fact that there is law for such matters but it is not put into practice makes everything even more difficult. Journalists find themselves undermined seeing laborers being supported by law, but they are ignored by the same law and system. Journalists say they put up with the current situation to avoid unemployment.
The retirement planning has been ratified by the Expediency Council and is supposed to be put in practice. However, it has never been fully practiced because of some obstacles and executive barriers.
“Journalists are supposed to be able to retire themselves with 20 years of paying insurance and tax. The draft of such law has been passed by the Media and Press Affair Department of Iran’s Culture Ministry and if it is passed by the administrative cabinet, it would be put in practice,” said Mehdi Shojaei, the head of the Foundation for Supporting Journalists.
“Labor Ministry and Social Security Organization are the main operators of this law and they will receive more precise details on the matter including the comprehensive definition of journalism as a career,” he added.
Journalism as Career Meaningless
There are various troubles in the law as a whole. One of the problems is related to an article saying: “Journalists who have twenty years of continuous career history in journalism or 25 years of intermittent career history in this career can refer to this law to retire themselves early.”
A journalist that had worked for one of the known news agencies in the country and is not working for media anymore said: “at the current situation that news many newspapers and media are closed down, and journalists are unemployed for long time; such law is pointless and meaningless. How can you work for 20 consecutive years for media in Iran?”
Ali-Akbar Ghazizadeh, a senior lecturer at a university told Iran Labor News Agency (ILNA) his side of the story: “if I count the number of the newspapers and news agencies that I worked for them and they were closed down, I must give you a three-digit number. It is not my fault that any adventurous person launches a newspaper and people like me join his team. That person leaves the industry after he achieves his goals and journalists like me are left with no job security.” Critics of this law find it almost impossible to work at this career for 20 consecutive years. They were waiting for the parliament to present a new interpretation of the intermittent and consecutive work experience.
Who is journalist in Iranian Insurance Law?
This law has many other ambiguities. One of the obstacles that did not allow the law to be practiced is the vague definition of journalism as a career. During years, various definitions of journalism has been presented and changed during the course of parliamentary processes to pass this law.
Social Security Organization in the country has not yet reached an agreement with the Culture Ministry about a unique and final definition of journalism as a career. However, government officials claim they have a clear idea what journalism is.
This law includes all people of various professions like reporters, editors, editors in chief, news and media experts, and photographers. Consequently, the Social Security Organization must retire people of these professions early. However, Culture Ministry can act separately and consider some people as journalists and deprive others from their rights simply because it does not find them meeting the criteria of being journalists.
A journalist told us: “such measures that Culture Ministry took do not guaranty the journalists’ benefit. There is no guaranty that a journalist achieves his benefit if he has a personal problem with any of the government officers.”
On the other hand the in Culture Minister’s deputy in Media Affairs declares that journalists must provide the ministry with some samples of their works to use the benefits like national health service.
Journalists working for newspapers must complete their case with 15 works and journalists working for news agencies must print 50 pieces of works. Also, designers must show 20 works to enjoy the benefit.
This journalist adds: “It is crystal clear that this situation is like a dangerous malady. The government is actually replacing a syndicate instead of empowering them. If syndicates are not empowered to revive journalists’ lost rights, if the Culture Ministry takes the place of syndicates, the journalists’ rights will be jeopardized easily.”
Ambiguity about journalists working for government
The problems that were mentioned above are not the only problems. This law has its own exceptions and will not be imposed on journalists working in centers affiliated to the government.
Some of the journalists working for government organizations were denied of such benefits only because they were employed by the government. We discussed the matter with a journalist working for Islamic Republic News Agency (IRAN) who is working at Humanity Desk. He tells us he is not aware of such law.
He says: “journalists who were employed by the government in a few year back enjoy a stable position. However, it seems they do not have the chance to grab such an opportunity.”
He has been being sarcastic saying: “it seems lawmakers made sure they pass such law that does not let anyone retire early with 20 years of experience.”
On the other hand, in the free world, if a journalist gets fired or the media that he works for is closed down for any reasons, the journalist has unemployment benefit and government organizations support him until he finds a new job. However, in Iran the support for the journalist remain on papers and does not go much farther than a theory. Many Iranian journalists are happy to only have a job and do not even bother to dream about unemployment benefit.
One of the journalists who we interviewed said in disappointment: “How come you are talking about retirement and benefit? We have not even worked in a newspaper for a few years consecutively. I have started taking charge of my future myself by switching to self-employment plan. I am sure that I cannot work for one newspaper for long for various reasons; so I do not count on them to secure my future. I do not rely on this law either. It is written on a piece of paper and is not written for us.
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