NYARUGENGE - The Rwanda Journalist Association (ARJ) is planning to become a trade union, the association president, Gaspard Safari has said.
Safari said this yesterday in an interview with The New Times at Stipp Hotel, where the ARJ was holding a consultative meeting on the benefits of a journalist trade union.
“This is part of ARJ’s efforts to improve the welfare of journalists in the country,” Safari explained.
This follows its acceptance into the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) as an associate member in May this year. It was required to become a union before full accreditation through the regional journalists’ association.
“Becoming a trade union will empower us (ARJ) to influence issues such as journalists’ well-being,” Safari noted. Affiliation to the IFJ has important implications.
“When you don’t belong to these organisations, you don’t have a say; you don’t get the opportunity to tell the true story about your country,” Safari underscored, adding that all is set but was waiting for Rwandan media house managers to respond positively to the development since it requires the involvement of workers and management.
“We are still discussing with Rwandan media managers about joining the union,” Safari explained.
ARJ’s membership in IFJ will impact positively in terms of the perception of Rwanda by the outside world.
“It is not only useful to us as individual members, but it will also be useful to the country when the right story is told,” He said.
Present at the two-day meeting was Nigerian Labor Congress Spokesman, Owei Lakemfa, who highlighted the strength and weaknesses of trade unions with emphasis on journalist unions.
He, however, stressed that trade unions play an important role and are helpful in effective communication between workers and management.
Herbert Lumasa, the board treasurer of the Eastern Africa Journalists’ Association (EAJA), said the development by ARJ is part of the Djibouti resolutions.
A former executive member of IFJ, Lumasa said it was resolved in Djibouti that all EAJA members be encouraged to form associations and unions to address journalists’ welfare. He explained that associations are only affiliates to the EAJA and IFJ unlike unions.
“It is therefore part of the requirements to the EAJA and IFJ.”
Currently, ARJ is an associate member of IFJ, a world media watch-dog. This was after its inclusion into the EAJA which comprises 10 countries; Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Djibouti, Somali, Eritrea, Sudan, and Ethiopia.
Rwanda, Burundi and Djibouti are the only members yet to form unions.