Media practitioners union launched

By Rosalia David

THE Namibia Media Professionals Union (Nampu) newly appointed deputy secretary general Jemima Beukes has stressed that there is no freedom for journalists to speak about their poor working conditions in some newsrooms as they fear losing their jobs.

Beukes said this at the launch of the new union that took place last week.

“The fear of losing their jobs has placed journalists in a situation where they have kept quiet about unfair labour practices, human rights abuses and sexual harassment amongst others. The industry is becoming increasingly unstable,” she said.

She added that other journalists are often paid late and most are underpaid.

Beukes further noted that many newsrooms had replaced highly experienced staff with an army of interns.

“It is important to note that starting this union is not us standing up against our employers but us standing up for our rights. We hope that with this convention, we put our heads together as media workers to come up with a concrete system that would not only protect the rights of journalists as both human beings and professionals but to guide us.”

Supporting this sentiment, Nampu secretary general Sackeus Iikela said the exploitation, overworking and underpayment of journalists and the misuse of interns are some of the issues that are prevalent in the media industry.

“The union will be tasked with elevating the voices of all its members to address some of these issues. We now have an entity that we will all turn to when we encounter issues of unfair labour practices with our employers,” he said.

The union’s main objective is to organise and unite local journalists and media workers operating in print, broadcast and online, to allow for better bargaining and improved working conditions.

Nampu will also represent its members in labour matters and negotiate with employers on behalf of members.

It will strive to improve the working conditions of its members to a level that their rights as human beings and professionals are maintained as stipulated in the Labour Act and other legislation.

The leadership of Nampu consists of Iikela, Beukes, Charmaine Ngatjiheue, treasurer Timo Shihepo, and organiser Augetto Graig.

The executive has four additional members, Edward Muumbu, Esther Mbathera, Tileni Mongudhi and Tuyeimo Haidula.

The launch was attended by journalists from different media houses including veteran journalist and founder of The Namibian newspaper Gwen Lister, Media Ombudsman John Nakuta, Media Freedom Activist Joseph Ailonga and Trade Union Congress of Namibia secretary general, Mahongora Kavihuha.