FENAJ developed, in collaboration with its 31 affiliated unions, a safety protocol including health protection measures for working journalists whether reporting on the ground or from newsrooms. The protocols, which were supported by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the International Labor Organization (ILO), were widely adopted by Brazilian media companies.
The unions affiliated to FENAJ launched a range of other actions, including adding key safety measures in collective bargaining agreements and initiated a debate to extend protections to journalists working from home.
The IFJ affiliate also coordinated public demonstrations against the government measures, approved by the Congress, that only benefited employers, allowing massive layoffs and ever more precarious labour conditions, with reduced working hours and lower salaries.
FENAJ has also closely monitored the measures taken by employers to protect their workers safety. FENAJ actively participated in the IFJ global research and laucnhed its own studies to monitor the working conditions and salaries in the media sector. This included a specific survey for women and mothers working from home.
FENAJ is currently coordinating the work of its affiliated unions for media workers to be vaccinated on a priority basis, pushing the authorities to consider journalists as essential workers during the pandemic.
This measures is vital for the sector. According to the FENAJ, 213 journalists have died up to mid-May 2021 as a result of COVID-19 infections in Brazil - the country with the highest mortality rate of journalists in the world.
The memory of the journalists killed by Covid is preserved in a forest
The union has not only fought for media workers’ safety but honored the memory of those who lost their life while performing their work. In a joint action, FENAJ, the Brazilian Press Association (ABI) and the Association of the Golden Lion Monkey (a species of small golden monkey threatened with extinction) created the Forest of Memory dedicated to journalists killed by Covid-19, in the municipality of Silva Jardim, Rio de Janeiro.
A tree native to the Atlantic Forest - an extensive area of preserved forest that covers a large part of the Brazilian coast - was planted for each dead journalist. Next to each tree there is a plaque with the name of each person, a tribute to the media professionals who died while informing society during these tough times.
The "Forests of Memory" initiative is also part of the United Nations Decade of Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030) to create a global recovery movement, reverse species loss and help meet carbon emission reduction targets. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recognized the Brazilian forestry campaign as an example to follow for other countries.
The IFJ praises and recognises the work of the FENAJ in defending Brazilian media workers during the pandemic in such a difficult context, where the covid threat was on top of a hostile environment towards media workers led by Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro.