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Distribution of two major dailies halted by trade union action

(CEHURDES/IFEX) - CEHURDES condemns the disruption of distribution of two daily newspapers by a Maoist-affiliated trade union.

In a disturbing repeat of a tactic employed by Maoist-affiliated workers to disrupt publication of "Nepal Samacharpatra" daily a few weeks before, the workers halted distribution of "Annapurna Post" and "The Himalayan Times".

In a 21 July 2007 statement on behalf of The International Media Network, "The Himalayan Times" editor Ram Pradhan confirmed the halt in distribution. "For the last 3 days there has been a disruption in the distribution of 'AP' and 'THT'. On 21st July [the papers] did not reach the market because all distribution in Kathmandu was hijacked by the Maoist-affiliated trade union."

Delivery boys claiming allegiance to the Maoist-affiliated trade union have obstructed the distribution of the two newspapers, demanding a pay hike, permanent status and other benefits. The publications, however, claim the boys are not employed by them.

"Nine distribution agencies, including RB News, are involved in the distribution of these dailies and they manage all things related to the distribution of the papers. It is of no concern to the publishers of 'Annapurna Post' and 'The Himalayan Times' what kind of individuals are involved in the distribution of the papers and what salary is paid to them," the statement said.

The publishers have said that they will have no option but to suspend publication of the newspapers under current circumstances.

CEHURDES believes in the right of workers to collective bargaining for their legitimate demands. However, CEHURDES is completely against the action of disrupting the publication and distribution of newspapers and believes that it is a blatant attack on press freedom and violation of the public's right to information.

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