Trade Union Development—Prospects and Challenges

Experts and delegates emphasised that the starting point to achieve notable development in the media trade union was the need to establish transparent of democratic structures in the union hierarchy to make the organisation attractive.

It was established that trade union organisation and development needed to be taken as an on-going exercise because owners of capital will always resist the establishment of trade union branches in work places. A strategy was therefore devised to address the problem of recruitment and targets were set.

The first progress report to this effect would be tendered to the office of the ZUJ General Secretary, three weeks from the end of the workshop. A taskforce on recruitment was formed and was additionally tasked to organise freelance journalists with a view to integrating them as full members of the union as is the case with other journalists holding full time jobs in places of work where the ZUJ is recognised.

A vigorous recruitment programme was also seen as an essential element in the quest to unify the profession. The need to overcome superficial divisions between private and publicly owned media was seen as critical.

Trade union organisation was characterised as revolution that depended on a mass movement and therefore the ZUJ leadership was reminded of the many frustrations and dangers associated with the exercise. Since it was a revolution, it can only be delayed and not stopped. This was the spirit with which the ZUJ leadership was encouraged to soldier on and organise workers in all media houses where there is resistance to trade union membership.

A group that takes to a revolution the sensitivity of workers’ organisation needed to be united and with well established structures. Disunity in the union ranks can prove very fatal to the interests of the union.

Trade union organisation was also seen as a useful tool to fight casualisation of labour which was becoming rampant among employers who wanted to shy away from decent pay for media workers. Media workers are workers like any others, so they need to organise themselves to protect their labour interests and welfare against the vagaries of exploitation.

But caution was sounded that trade unions in the media, which are highly sensitive places should strive to harness the aspirations of its members while at the same time ensure that industrial harmony prevailed so that there is increased productivity and therefore prospects of a good pay for workers.

Trade Union Development Workshop in Zambia, Baluba Motel, Luanshya, 18th to 20th September, 2003.

ZUJ report - Back to the table of contents