Republic TV forcing staff to sign new restrictive contracts: NL report

As per a report by News Laundry, in late May, Republic sent all its employees a new contract. It lays down conditions so harsh that at least 10 employees quit.

New Delhi: More than a handful of Republic TV employees have reportedly quit the organisation over the last few months after they were asked to sign new contracts by the management. The staffers were told to either sign the new terms and conditions, or have their salaries withheld.

While earlier also Republic TV has been alleged to have a toxic work culture, a handful of journalists from the TV channel finally decided to break their silence about what goes on the in the newsroom run by the infamous anchor and editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami. Some of their employees said that they are treated with no dignity.

According to a report by News Laundry, in late May, Republic sent all its employees a new contract. It laid down conditions so harsh that at least 10 employees quit rather than sign it. The new contract, which the staffers were told to sign immediately or have their salaries withheld, renders them “bonded labourers”, as a former Republic staffer put it acrossto NL.

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“The management was so eager to have us sign the contract they sent it by courier to the employees working from home because of Covid. Many people were hesitant to sign because of its strange conditions. The people who did not sign had their salaries for May stopped. I found resigning to be the better option,” said a former Republic employee who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals.

At least nine of his former colleagues made the same choice. They include four people who ran the primetime broadcasts.

“We could sign the contract and become bonded labourers or leave. I decided to quit,” said another former Republic staffer who had been with Republic Bharat since its launch. “I didn’t have a job in hand, but the terms and conditions of the new contract were such that I couldn’t sign it.”

What is the contract?

“The old contract was eight pages, the new one runs into 30 pages. I objected to three conditions mainly,” explained one of the former employees. “First, the notice period would be six months rather than the earlier 45 days to two months. Second, if I left Republic I couldn’t work with any rival TV channel or even a digital outlet for a year. Third, if I faced a police case because of my work I would have to bear all the legal expenses myself. This is absolutely unfair.”

Newslaundry examined the new contract and it does indeed lay down these conditions.

“Had I signed the contract and left afterwards, I would have been unable to work for a long time,” the former employee added. “Which company was going to wait six months for me to complete my notice period? And what about not joining another news outlet for 12 months? We are journalists. We can only work with a TV channel or a digital or print outlet.

The reason behind the stringent contract and rules is being said that, they were not told, even though some of the staffers did question the management as to the reason. They suspect, however, that the reason was the impending launch of Times Now Navbharat, the Hindi news channel of the Times Group.

Republic came up after poaching people from Times Now. And the management was worried the Times Group would now do the same to Republic, and they had in fact approached five-six people,” said another former Republic staffer who left without signing the new contract. 

Still, most of the Republic employees have signed the new contract, mainly because, a few of them told Newslaundry, they could not find any other job immediately.

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