Palestinian journalists are on the verge of securing new collective agreements at two of the country’s most important private sector media companies.
The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS), signed a Declaration of Intent (DOI) on developing a collective bargaining agreements with Wattan news agency and Ma’an during a week of action.
PJS President Nasser Abu Baker and IFJ representative Monir Zaarour attended the signings which will form the basis of a final collective agreement, vital for protecting workers’ rights.
The Declaration of Intention recognizes several principles including recognition of the PJS by the media and its rights to organize and establish PJS branches, to represent journalists in negotiating collective agreements and a commitment to editorial independence, public services values, secure contracts and decent working conditions.
It is part of a major drive by the PJS to build the union. Elections for branch leader were also organised in the Palestinian News and Information Agency (WAFA) on 1 October, and Alhayat Al-Jadida Newspaper on the 4 October. In both a majority of women journalists were elected to lead the branches. Next week, the PJS will organize the elections in its branches in public radio and TV.
“We are working on elections and MOUs in parallel. Our next target is to conduct elections in the Palestinian broadcasting organization as the final one in public sector. We are now working on covering the private sector media organizations, to engage more young trade unionist through the elections and upgrade these memorandums to final agreements” said Abu Baker.
Monir Zaarour said : “It was great privilege to be with the PJS and its members. We wish the new leaders all the best in their mandate and we'll always be there to help and support”.
Last year, the IFJ witnessed the signing of the first agreements with public media. Abu Baker said on that occasion "This historic deal represents a real achievement for Palestinian journalists and will now open the door for a new step for the union to negotiate collective agreement for journalists in the private sector".
During the week of action the PJS IFJ also met with His Excellency Ali Abu Diak, Palestinian Minister of Justice and the Head of the Cabinet Legislation Committee, for an update on government plans to finalize the Right to Information law. The meeting came after the PJS and IFJ presented a briefing to the government on the latest draft of the law. The discussion also covered the basic principles that should be included in the draft law to establish an independent media regulatory body for the audio-visual sector. Previous government drafts were rejected by the PJS and the media. The government now agreed that the PJS will put forward its own draft for the establishment of the regulatory authority.