Journalists unions from across East Africa have agreed on a joint action plan to build stronger unions and intensify the fight for decent working conditions.
The unions – meeting in Kigali in Rwanda on 31 July-1 August – placed a special emphasis on promoting recruitment and engagement with young workers and tackling the widespread rights abuses arising from a growth in precarious work.
Representatives from IFJ-affiliated unions and associations in Kenya, Uganda, Somalia, Sudan, Djibouti, Tanzania and Burundi joined hosts in Rwanda at the 2-day regional meeting organised by the Eastern Africa Journalists Association and the IFJ, focusing on promoting freedom of association and collective bargaining.
The unions were joined by IFJ Deputy General Secretary Jeremy Dear and the acting director of the IFJ's Africa office Louis Thomasi
A programme of action was unanimously adopted which includes a commitment by the unions to:
• Strive to build strong, united, democratic, independent, representative and self-sustaining unions.
• build solidarity with the aim of increasing their capacity to represent journalists and other media workers. This includes encouraging wide recruitment campaigns, viable systems of membership dues collection, training of unions’ leaders and carrying out reforms to strengthen leadership structures to ensure that they respond to the interests of members.
• Promote a more active integration of young journalists into journalists’ unions by undertaking strong initiatives to recruit new members especially those journalists working in the digital media sector, who are consistently exploited and increase the role of union representation in improving wage levels and working conditions.
• Intensify their struggle for decent working conditions and defense of fundamental labour rights for journalists and other media workers such as the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining, including lodging complaints at the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
• Call on the IFJ and all trade union organisations in Africa and beyond to support independent journalists’ trade unions in their fight for journalists’ rights, media freedom, decent working conditions and social justice.
The full Kigali Declaration document can be found here
IFJ Deputy General Secretary Jeremy Dear said: “Our affiliates across eastern Africa have shown their absolute commitment to unite, to work in solidarity and to struggle for decent working conditions, labour and professional rights and building stronger unions."
“Journalists in Africa face many problems – precarious work, low pay, poor working conditions, threats and intimidation and an abuse of their rights."
“Strong active unions are the only force that can defend journalists and journalism, win improvements in social and labour rights and be a force to create the conditions for media freedom and decent working conditions. In that struggle the IFJ stands shoulder to shoulder with EAJA and all our affiliates and will continue to actively support their fight."