June 20, 2020
ISLAMABAD—Editor of Dawn newspaper, Zaffar Abbas has promised to look into complaints of current and former employees about the unhealthy work environment at Dawn.com, saying any mistake or wrong by the institution would be addressed.
He was talking with BBC Urdu after some employees of Dawn.com aired their views online regarding "toxic environment" at Dawn offices.
In their tweets, they alleged that they have to work long hours without any holidays, and those working diligently are given more work.
One of the employees maintained that the work atmosphere drove her to think about committing suicide. That tweet was later removed.
Abbas said every office faces problems and issues. "Every office has its own rules and process to deal with these issues. We are conducting an internal inquiry into this issue."
He added that Dawn is talking with those who have made complaints about the gross treatment at the workplace. "If the institution is in the wrong, every effort will be made to correct it," he told BBC Urdu. However, he added that he was directly involved in the matters at Dawn.com.
A tweet by Rizwan on June 16 said: "Toxic environment at DAWN offices that many ex-employees now testify to. And they say it all comes from the top. Now it makes sense why the current employees are so afraid to talk impartially on any matter. I wish someone could take notice or speak up for current employees." This tweet was accompanied by a combo of tweets in which the employees are talking about the toxic environment at Dawn office.
Zehra Naqvi came up with several tweets in which she claimed that the head of the blog desk tried to harass her and another colleague.
She said: "I was hired to work at @dawn_com's Blogs desk as a senior sub-editor. I was quite excited about the work and treated well at first, but upon refusing to silently partake in the favouritism or abide by the toxic social norms of the office, behaviour toward me changed."
And then she added. "The head of blogs desk @dawn_com told my coworker that she and I should not associate with the people working at Urdu blogs because it was bad for our reputation. That, instead, we should be more like the elite girls."
Some people complaining about the toxic atmosphere asked Abbas to intervene. But he made clear that he would not speak publicly on matters of office. "If the complainant comes to me, I will listen and would make every effort to solve the issue."
BBC Urdu said Dawn had hired a third party for hiring employees, a fact bemoaned on social media. Many people criticized the credentials of the third party.
A tweet by Faraz claimed: "Dawn hires people through third party contractor, a bogus front company Xpert Services, to avoid employer's obligations to employees!"
Sajjad Haider commented "Xpert Services is LITERALLY (and this is no joke) a company housed in a shipping container placed outside Dawn's Haroon House office."
Rishad Mehmood, General Secretary of Pakistan Herald Workers Union, maintained that journalists should form strong unions to address their difficulties. "You need the consent of ten people to form a union."
Commenting on the issue of the third party hiring the employees for Dawn, Mehmood said the main aim is to save tax and engage people on a contractual basis. Employees on a contractual basis are not provided other facilities and allowances reserved for permanent employees.
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