Media trade unions in Eastern and Southern Africa rose from a two day conference in South Africa with a call on national unions and media workers to launch awareness campaigns on the effects of globalization in the sector.
The conference was organized by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in collaboration with the Eastern Africa Journalists Association (EAJA) and the Southern Africa Journalists Association (SAJA).
The meeting which held on December 12 and 13, 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa brought together 22 journalists and trade union leaders from Eastern and Southern Africa to deliberate on the current negative trends engaged in by media conglomerates, as well as the challenges that globalization generates.
Participants condemned the prevalent threats to freedom of association and the right to organize in the media industry faced in the region. They also noted the insecurity of employment and the exposure to unpleasant working conditions without consideration to safety of journalists. Participants also observed that the attempt at commoditisation and commercialization of news in the region is a dire effect of globalization.
The conference ended with a declaration by the media Trade Unions calling on the national unions and media workers to launch awareness campaigns on the effects of globalization in the sector.
The declaration called for a number of points to be addressed including: launching a campaign on key labour standards including the International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions on freedom of association and collective bargaining (87 and 98); intensifying recruitment drive of journalists and other media workers, especially the youth, female and freelance journalists; building the capacities of the union leaders in trade union management, social dialogue and collective bargaining; and building alliances and solidarity with sister unions at national, regional and international levels.
Other issues the declaration seeks to address are: to increase the capacity of union leaders and members in resource mobilization; to set up and operate functional secretariats that are able to implement programs addressing the challenges affecting membership expressed through congresses and democratic bodies of the unions; to build and consolidate continuous data and documentation of the union activities for continuity and institutional memory; to ensure legal representation of membership in the work place; creating social programs within the union to address the welfare of membership especially the vulnerable members; to improve and develop communication both internally and externally in order to profile the union and build solidarity with the trade union movement; to develop and mainstream gender policies and programs addressing the effects of globalisation on the media industries in the two regions; and to engage governments to enact collective frameworks.
The groups, in the declaration, also seek to lobby employers to undertake proper staffing of their newsrooms and remuneration to stop exploiting journalists on the basis of increasing convergence of media platforms; and campaigning for the harmonisation of progressive labour laws in the two regions to promote labour standards and movement of media workers.
The Declaration called on the Africa Media Initiative (AMI) and the Africa Media Leaders Forum (AMLF) to give attention to the effects of globalization in Eastern and Southern Africa and to promote social dialogue in the media industry by respecting the rights to unionize in the work place to Collective Bargaining.
It also called on the Regional and international financial institutions to make freedom of association, social dialogue, collective bargaining and unions’ rights as prerequisite conditions for investment in the media industry.