KIGALI - Following its entry into the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the Rwanda Journalists’ Association (ARJ), will, effective December 15, be rebranded ‘Rwanda Journalists Union (RJU) during the General Assembly.
In an interview with The New Times on Monday, Gaspard Safari, the president of the association, said that they have a new constitution and statutes which will be tabled before the general assembly for approval.
Election for the new management of the union, he said, will also be held the same day to replace the current team heading ARJ.
“For you to have a voice, locally, regionally and beyond, you must belong to international organizations and in this case, the IFJ, the Eastern Africa Journalists Association (EAJA), the latter which also requires that you become a union,” Safari said.
ARJ became a member of IFJ about one and half years ago.
“Our journalists in this country don’t have a body where they can channel their grievances if they got any problems in relation to payments and unfair dismissals,” Safari said.
“You can only handle these issues if you are a union and mandated by the labour law to intervene on behalf of your members on issues of labour rights.”
Safari said RJU will become a member of the local workers organization, CESTRAR.
“We will also go into collective bargain agreements with all employers…if we find that there are problems between employers and our members, we shall be requesting them to deal with the union,” Safari said, adding that the agreement will also embody the salary structure.
Effective next week, they will be meeting “all heads of media houses in the country to work with us in this process. Journalists who don’t have contracts must have them.”
“The transformation of this association into a union must be looked at as a new way of dealing with the issues of underemployment of our journalists, journalist who are not paid and those who have been working for years without contracts.”
Lack of contracts has been one of the obstacles affecting journalists to access loans in financial institutions across the country.
He said that being a union will also help curb corruption and bribery cases among practitioners, which he also attributed to lack of job security at their respective employers.