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 …Media Owners, Managers Urged

Delegates at the just ended Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) Seminar have agreed on a number of issues aimed at improving the working conditions of journalists in West Africa.

The leaders of journalists’ trade unions of the West African Journalists Association (WAJA) who met in Cotonou, Benin recently agreed that media employers in the West African region among other things, respect and improve the collective agreements that they have signed by ending all forms of discrimination by enhancing equal work for equal pay.

The gathering was held under the theme: “Improving Conditions of Service to Boost Quality Journalism.”

The document also known as the Cotonou Declaration calls for journalists Unions in the West Africa Sub-region to launch a campaign to improve the conditions of service and safety of journalists; strengthen the advocacy for improving the conditions of journalists by engaging the ECOWAS authority to reaffirm its support for the enforcement and implementation of the ECOWAS/WAJA Collective Bargaining Framework, among others.

 The Declaration also requests the building and widening of practical partnership with the IFJ, FES, and other trade union movements and media rights groups for the training of journalists on issues of collective bargaining and negotiation skills and the safety of journalists in the sub-region.

According to the Declaration, concerns about the poor and precarious working conditions of journalists, coupled with the lack of social security benefits and insurance while media houses continue to reap enormous profits, and  the lack of respect for labor rights in the media industry in the region.

The document said reaffirming that the provisions of the ECOWAS /WAJA Framework Collective Agreement may be included in the legislation of ECOWAS Member States where no Collective Agreement can be negotiated directly and recognizing that the fundamental principles of Freedom of Association and the right to collective bargaining is a reflection to human dignity.

 The gathering also called on West African Governments through ECOWAS to renew their commitment and support for the safety and social rights of journalists as well as the legal and political environments for the operation of the media in the sub-region.