Eastern Africa Journalists Association (EAJA)
(Dar es Salaam, Tanzania 7th June, 2014): The Eastern Africa Journalists Association (EAJA) has lauded efforts by the journalists’ fraternity in Tanzania to form a new trade union to champion their interests.
The Journalists in Tanzania, with support from the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on June 6, ended a two-day Trade Union Development workshop under the theme: “Freedom of Association and the Right to Organise; Building a New Journalists Union” during which they resolved to form a new union.
Participants at the workshop elected a five member constitutional committee with the mandate follow up on the resolutions of the workshop including organizing for the registration of the new union under the name “Journalists Union of Tanzania” (JUT).
“This is an important development for journalists in Tanzania and we commend the efforts to register a new union to lead the fight for journalists rights and join the collective efforts of other journalists unions within the family of the Eastern Africa Journalists Association,” said Alexandre Niyungeko, the EAJA Secretary General.
Tanzanian journalists have been without an effective trade union for some years now after the previous one, the Tanzania Union of Journalists (TUJ) became defunct due lack of effective leadership and was formally de-registered by the High court of Tanzania on June 24th 2013 on the application of the Registrar of Trade Unions.
“We thank IFJ for supporting the initiative to register the new journalists union in Tanzania and for its support on trade union development in Eastern Africa, which will no doubt strengthen the capacity of journalists to fight for their rights. EAJA offers its full support to our Tanzanian colleagues in this endeavour,” added Niyungeko.
Those elected to the Constitutional Committee to lead the process included Samson Kamalamo, Timothy Kitundu, Jane Mihanji who is also the Vice President of Union of Tanzania Press Clubs (UTPC), Arodia Peter and Hamisi Mzee from Media Council of Tanzania (MCT).
IFJ Senior Programme Officer from the Africa Regional Office in Dakar, Senegal, Pa Louis Thomasi said journalists all over the world continued to face challenges which included threats, intimidation, murder and arrests, with some being held incommunicado.
He said the only way for journalists in Tanzania to confront the challenges facing them was to organize and unite together under an effective union which would help them fight for their rights.
“We in the IFJ are very pleased with this initiative by Tanzania journalists to form a new trade union. We will support it because is the right way to fight for the rights of media workers in Tanzania and it is part of our responsibility as an international body to make sure you have a strong trade union,” said Thomasi.
The Deputy General Secretary of Trade Union Congress of Tanzania (TUCTA), Hezron Kaaya who also attended the meeting said they would support the efforts by the journalists to form a new trade union.
Kaaya said journalists in Tanzania were increasingly facing many problems which had been made worse by lack of a trade union. He said among the problems were lack of labour contracts, low salaries and lack of adequate social protection.
"There are some journalists who are getting infected with several diseases at work but are not paid any compensation due to lack a trade union to fight for their rights,” he said.
The workshop was also addressed by the Resident Director of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) Rolf Paasch who emphasized the need for journalists in Tanzania to have a trade union in order to fight for their rights.
He urged journalists in Tanzania to work together in confronting the challenges they were facing and to overcome the fear of engaging with employers.
“Please revive or re-establish the journalists union to help you tackle the many challenges you face, which you can’t overcome without a trade union,” said Paasch.