Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its African regional group, the Federation
of African Journalists (FAJ) in collaboration with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung
(FES) foundation held a two day conference on the Welfare of African
journalists in the Nigerian capital,
Abuja from 20- 21 July 2011.
The Conference, under
the theme: "The Fruit of our Labour: A
New Agenda for Improving Conditions of Journalists in Africa", was attended
by the IFJ President Jim Boumelha and IFJ Secretary General Elisabeth Costa who
joined about 30 journalists leaders across the continent. It highlighted the
poor working conditions of African journalists which were described as "appalling and precarious."
Speaking at the opening
ceremony, FAJ President Omar Faruk Osman said that the majority of working
journalists in Africa have little or no recourse when their rights are
"They have no way to
improve their wages and workplace conditions. Year after year, working
journalists who are union members are fired, arrested and attacked for
exercising their legal right to free association and their right to organize," he
Faruk added that
while most journalists are working in atrocious conditions, women journalists
are relegated to low wages, low skilled and dangerous jobs while retaining the
primary responsibility for the care and survival of their families. "The solutions
to these problems lie in our hands and we must find ways to improve the working
conditions of journalists in Africa," he emphasized.
In his address, IFJ
President Jim Boumelha told welcomed the fact that the conference focused solely
on journalists, their working conditions, social rights and their future.
"The essence of
building strong trade unions is to defend the rights and welfare of the members
and where unions are lacking or weak, the fundamental rights of journalists'
workers are easily violated," he said.
In the same vein, IFJ
Secretary General, Elisabeth Costa, said that the precarious working conditions
of journalists are not only unique to Africa, but common across the world. She
stressed that there is need to strengthen our solidarity network to be able to
improve the working conditions of journalists. "The IFJ is fully committed to helping
its affiliates in Africa to organise and work collectively."
Representative of FES in Nigeria, Thomas Mattig, said that the working
conditions of journalists and media workers across the continent are dire.
"Many journalists work under precarious working conditions, they have no or
almost no social security, no access to collective bargaining mechanisms and often
they do not have a work contract or a regular salary." The contrast, he said,
is striking between the importance role the media play in the democracy process
and the conditions under which journalists work. He denounced the profound
disregard for the importance of free media.
At the end of the two
day workshop, a Declaration was issued by FAJ committing the Federation to
launch a campaign to improve the conditions of service of journalists and media
workers in the media industry in Africa as well as to fight for the labour
rights of journalists and other media workers as the fundamental basis of
social justice, human rights and democracy.
For more information contact the IFJ at +221 33 867 95
87 / +32 2 235 2200
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 131 countries worldwide