The workshop brought together 20 young journalists as well as the executive members of the KUJ to deliberate on recruitment strategies for the injection of more young journalists into the union as well as designing policies and programmes that will attract young journalists especially those working online into the union.
The Secretary General of the KUJ, Eric Charles Oduor, in his welcome statement said that the media landscape in Kenya is still very rough and journalists are still arbitrarily fired from their jobs sometimes without any form of compensation. However, KUJ has been in the frontline to defend its members in such situations and have been to court on numerous occasions in order to ensure that members who are arbitrarily fired receive due compensation. “KUJ continues to face huge challenges in defending the rights and welfare of its members. A significant number of journalists still work without any form of contracts, the safety and security of journalists especially female journalists remains a top priority while we are still struggling to open new chapters in certain parts of the country. Despite these challenges KUJ remains resolute in its mandate to defend its members. He called on young journalists in the media industry and most especially freelancers to join the union without any form of hesitation.
The Director of the IFJ Africa Office, Pa Louis Thomasi in his Solidarity Statement called on the KUJ executive to revisit their recruitment strategies by ensuring that young union members are included in their recruitment programmes in order to help bring their peers into the union. “Young journalists, especially those working online are the lifeblood of the unions and their recruitment must become a top priority. We must be able to sensitise young journalists that joining a union does not damage their career prospects. Instead, union members benefit more than non-union members in terms of career developments”.
The Industrial Relations Officer at the Central Organisation of Trade Union (COTU – Kenya), Anthony Githinji, who served as the lead trainer during the workshop said that privatisation, deregulation, competition and automation have led to job cuts, leading to drastic reductions in union membership and income. “As the world of work changes, unions like the KUJ have to also modernise by readapting their traditional bargaining agenda, organisational structures and priorities. KUJ must review union policies, strategies and allocation of finances and design recruitment strategies to acquire new members, especially young journalists coming into the profession”.
The two –day workshop dilated on various themes concerning the designing of campaign strategies for the recruitment of young journalists, youth programmes and policies in the KUJ, working conditions of young journalists online, gender equality in the media and sexual harassment in the newsrooms.