IFJ and FAJ Hold Conference on the Welfare of African Journalists in Nigeria

The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its African regional group, the Federation

of African Journalists (FAJ) in collaboration with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung

(FES) foundation held a two day conference on the Welfare of African

journalists in the Nigerian  capital,

Abuja from 20- 21 July 2011.

The Conference, under

the theme: "The Fruit of our Labour: A

New Agenda for Improving Conditions of Journalists in Africa", was attended

by the IFJ President Jim Boumelha and IFJ Secretary General Elisabeth Costa who

joined about 30 journalists leaders across the continent. It highlighted the

poor working conditions of African journalists which were  described as "appalling and precarious."

Speaking at the opening

ceremony, FAJ President Omar Faruk Osman said that the majority of working

journalists in Africa have little or no recourse when their rights are

violated.

"They have no way to

improve their wages and workplace conditions. Year after year, working

journalists who are union members are fired, arrested and attacked for

exercising their legal right to free association and their right to organize," he

said .

Faruk added that

while most journalists are working in atrocious conditions, women journalists

are relegated to low wages, low skilled and dangerous jobs while retaining the

primary responsibility for the care and survival of their families. "The solutions

to these problems lie in our hands and we must find ways to improve the working

conditions of journalists in Africa," he emphasized.

In his address, IFJ

President Jim Boumelha told welcomed the fact that the conference focused solely

on journalists, their working conditions, social rights and their future.

"The essence of

building strong trade unions is to defend the rights and welfare of the members

and where unions are lacking or weak, the fundamental rights of journalists'

workers are easily violated," he said.

In the same vein, IFJ

Secretary General, Elisabeth Costa, said that the precarious working conditions

of journalists are not only unique to Africa, but common across the world. She

stressed that there is need to strengthen our solidarity network to be able to

improve the working conditions of journalists. "The IFJ is fully committed to helping

its affiliates in Africa to organise and work collectively."

The Resident

Representative of FES in Nigeria, Thomas Mattig, said that the working

conditions of journalists and media workers across the continent are dire.

"Many journalists work under precarious working conditions, they have no or

almost no social security, no access to collective bargaining mechanisms and often

they do not have a work contract or a regular salary." The contrast, he said,

is striking between the importance role the media play in the democracy process

and the conditions under which journalists work. He denounced the profound

disregard for the importance of free media.

At the end of the two

day workshop, a Declaration was issued by FAJ committing the Federation to

launch a campaign to improve the conditions of service of journalists and media

workers in the media industry in Africa as well as to fight for the labour

rights of journalists and other media workers as the fundamental basis of

social justice, human rights and democracy.

For more information contact the IFJ at   +221 33 867 95

87 / +32 2 235 2200

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 131 countries worldwide