The workshop brought together 14 participants from the Youth Working Group, union leaders from Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Angola and Somalia as well as members of the FAJ Steering Committee.
The workshop deliberated on pertinent issues concerning African journalists’ unions noting with concern that membership in the unions has dropped sharply in the past few years mainly because of the continuous loss of jobs in the media sector, particularly in the newspapers.
The Secretary General of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), Omar Faruk Osman, noted that the unions lack an organizing strategy and must put in place measures and strategies that will enhance recruitment and retention especially among the young journalists entering the profession as well as digital journalists.
The President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Christopher Ikechukwu Isiguzo, expressed that as union leaders “We must begin to look at the commitment of our members critically. As journalists and trade unionist we must demonstrate an unflinching commitment to our unions’ particular in the payment of our dues”.
While deliberating on the roles of the Youth Working Group which comprise of members from Botswana, Ghana, The Gambia, Kenya, Angola and Uganda the young journalists at the workshop opined that there is need to involve youths in the decision making the process at all levels. They called on the unions to ensure that young journalists in the unions are involved in the designing of policies and programmes. The unions they said must create platforms to ensure that young people in the media come together to play a more effective role in the unions most particularly in the recruitment of young journalists working online. The Youth Working Group called on the leadership of the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) to ensure that all its affiliates across the continent develop a youth policy.
In a declaration issued at the end of the workshop, union leaders and members of the Youth Working Group expressed the need to modernize union tactics, structures, and organizing methods and to develop effective negotiation strategies to win collective bargaining rights as well as to address the issue of contracts and long working hours in the digital media industry. The Declaration also called for the commitment of the unions to translate principles into actions.