“Journalist unions in Africa are undergoing very challenging times"

The Director of the Namibia Media Trust (NMT) Zoe Titus said that journalist unions in Africa are undergoing very challenging times since declining membership has resulted in reduced bargaining power and scope.

As the Guest Speaker  at the opening ceremony of a two -day workshop on Strategic Union Building, organised by the Namibia Media Professional Union (NAMPU) in collaboration with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) under the Union To Union (UTU) Project 2021, Titus expressed "Some media employers have adopted sophisticated tactics such as employing direct contract systems with employees, categorising journalists as essential workers or using individual pay agreements, and intimidating journalists who venture into union activities. The tactics also include dismissing and harassing union leaders and organisers, and a range of sophisticated human resources management techniques to suppress the desire for unionisation".

She further noted that NAMPU as a new union has great opportunities if they recognise that organising freelance journalists, journalism students and young journalists is critical to their efforts to establish a journalists’ union movement with a wide, representative membership base – from the private and public sector; one that will give NAMPU the mandate to protect all working journalists and media workers.

The Secretary General of NAMPU, Sakeus Iikela, said that this workshop is a learning experience for the executive members of NAMPU and journalists in Namibia. NAMPU, he said is a young union that is determined to mobilise journalists in Namibia under one umbrella in order to defend their rights and welfare.  He emphasized that NAMPU has open its doors to all journalists in Namibia especially young journalists working online, freelance journalists and journalists  working  in the public media. "NAMPU has already outlined plans to reach out to all journalists in the country through a recruitment campaign that will take off very soon". 

The Director of the IFJ Africa Office, Pa Louis Thomasi, said that the right to freedom of association, the right to organise and collective bargaining are fundamental human rights that are guaranteed by ILO Conventions 87 and 98.  As journalists we must realise that we also belong to the working class and hence have the right to form a union or to join a union of our choice. «Any employer who denies any journalist his or her right to join a union of his or her choice has violated the right to freedom of association and should be challenged in court. We will not negotiate for the rights that we already have".

The two -day workshop which was held in the Namibian capital Windhoek, from 26 - 27 November, brought together members of the NAMPU executive, journalists working in the private and public media as well trade union leaders and labour rights experts. The workshop dealt with a wide range of issues including the state of the media in Namibia, labour rights in Namibia, ILO Conventions 87 and 98, trade union alliances, cybersecurity and the safety of journalists and role of journalists in promoting trade unionism, freelance journalists and the decent work agenda and youth recruitment.

For more Information, please contact the IFJ - Africa Office

1st Floor, Maison de la Presse, 5 Rue X Corniche, Medina,

BP 64257, Dakar, Senegal

Tel: +221- 33 867 95 86/87; Fax: +221- 33 827 02