The Association of Rwandan Journalists (ARJ), in collaboration with the Eastern Africa Journalists Association (EAJA) over the weekend concluded a three-day workshop largely aimed at discussing the formation of a national journalists’ trade union.
A subsequent press release indicates that present at the meeting were about 20 leading journalists representing a broad section of the Rwandan journalists community.
It notes that the participants deliberated and exchanged ideas and know-how on a variety of subjects including; trade union structures, benefits, how it is set up, its leadership, collective bargaining, strategic tactics, and gender equality in the union.
“Participants agreed that a national journalists union would be the best vehicle for Rwandan journalists to advocate collectively to improve the terms and conditions of employment and promote professional issues in the industry. It was further agreed that a union would help foster a working environment that is ethical, democratic, inclusive and based on dignity and respect for all,” states the statement.
EAJA Secretary General Omar Faruk Osman is quoted emphasising the need for the local trade union.
“Technological evolution and the growing concentration of media in the hands of a few big corporations represent a challenging future for journalists. In Eastern Africa where media business is booming, journalists are working under appalling conditions that contradict the commercial success of their employers. The only solution is to have unions at the national level to bargain and negotiate for the welfare and professional rights of journalists,” said Omar Faruk.
According to the communiqué, Omar Faruk was happy with the progress the Rwandan journalism fraternity was taking towards establishing a trade union.
“We are proud to be associated with this process and will stand by our Rwandan colleagues as they go through this exciting transition towards the first trade union for journalists in the country,” he added.
ARJ’s makeover has been long awaited with a February General Assembly, having its members formally resolve to transform it into a trade union.
“The move towards trade unionism is long overdue for Rwandan journalists and I am happy that we are finally taking practical steps towards the realization of this goal,” said ARJ President Safari Gaspard.
On the final day of the workshop, working groups were formed which developed a plan of action for transforming the ARJ into a union.
The National Trade Union Centre of Rwanda – Centrale des Syndicats des Travailleurs du Rwanda (CESTRAR) is said to have pledged support for ARJ to become a trade union.