IFJ Calls for DRC Government Action for Workers Arbitrarily Dismissed by Media Group

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to put pressure on the board of the private media group Raga SPRL so that 9 arbitrarily dismissed union delegates can return to work as agreed a month ago with the mediation of the Labour Minister.

“This move by the board of Raga SPRL is unacceptable and will only deepen the crisis in the company,” said Gabriel Baglo Director of IFJ Africa office. “We call on the Labour Minister Marie-Angel Lukiana Mufwankolo, who obtained this agreement, to pressure the board to reinstate the nine employees.”

On June 8, 2007, under the initiative of the Labour Minister a meeting gathered the Raga SPRL board and union leaders. This meeting followed the dismissal without notice of nine union representatives for alleged “serious malpractice” according to the General Manager of Raga SPRL, Parag Bhimjihany.

The trade unionists had organised a strike last February for improved working conditions. A labour inspector authorized the immediate dismissal of the strike organisers because their action was in violation of the labour code. This decision was overruled by the Labour Minister requiring the immediate resumption of eight of the workers after June 8 meeting. It was agreed that the leader of the trade unionists, the journalist Fabien Lumbala Kalonji has to be suspended for 15 days for “misleading his colleagues”.

According to the National Union of Press Professionals (SNPP) of DRC, a little more than one month after this agreement, the board of Raga SPRL has not respected any of its engagements. The dismissed journalists have not yet resumed work.

“We call on the government, through the Ministries of Information and Labour, to take its responsibilities to make the law and the agreement signed last month to be respected by Raga SPRL board,” said Stanis Nkundiye, Secretary General of the SNPP.

The IFJ and the SNPP also denounced the insecurity the nine media workers are facing since early last month. These unionists, and particularly their leader, were summoned by the criminal police of Gombe in Kinshasa. They have also complained of people hanging around their houses at night.

“The authorities must make sure that these intimidations end and take care of the safety of the unionists and their families”, Baglo said.

The IFJ called on the government to launch a campaign in DRC to put an end to the abuse of workers in media companies. Many journalists have no contracts or are poorly paid in the country.

For further information contact the IFJ: +221 842 01 43

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 114 countries