Newspaper agents strike hits home delivery

Thiruvananthapuram: With the strike by a section of newspaper agents hitting doorstep deliveries in most parts of Kerala, government has convened a meeting of representatives of newspaper owners and agents on Monday to settle the agitation.

The talks would be mediated by state Labour Minister Shibu Baby John as serious concern has been expressed by newspaper industry and political leaders.

The strike has been sponsored by unions affiliated to CPI-M's trade union wing CITU demanding a hefty hike in the agents' commission.

The stir has seriously affected home delivery of newspapers in most parts of the state, barring Thiruvananthapuram, the state capital, for nearly a week.

The agents are demanding 50 per cent of the cover price of a daily as their commission and additional service charge for pull-outs and supplements. They are now getting 28 per cent of the cover price as commission.

The strike has drawn flak from leaders of various parties who said it amounted to violation of the freedom of the press. They also wondered why the CITU exempted dailies owned by political parties from the strike.

The managements alleged that the striking section was threatening agents who were prepared to distribute newspapers.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had directed the police to take strong action against those who were hindering others from distributing newspapers, official sources said.