Journalist organisations and labour federations called today on United Nations officials to address the dreadful working conditions and labour rights abuses at a radio station, Radio Bar Kulan (RBK), set up by the United Nations to broadcast in Somalia.
More than forty journalist and trade union organisations rallied behind the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) to petition UN Secretary-General’s Special representative for Somalia Ambassador Augustine Mahiga and the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Radio Bar Kulan, run by British PR company Albany Associates with funding from the UN, is accused of labour rights abuses, exploiting and badly treating Somali journalists, according to a report released by the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) in March this year.
The petition said, “according to journalists employed at RBK, those who are Somali nationals working in Kenya have not been provided with work permits in breach of Kenyan law. Almost all of those working in Somalia were not given written contract of employment spelling out their terms and conditions of service. They complain about frequent deductions from their salaries and cases where their lives were endangered; threats of and actual sackings, and forced resignations, as well as constant pressure on their editorial integrity from RBK management.”
“We are also shocked to hear that management of RBK continues to intimidate journalists and refuses to recognise their trade union organisation, the National Union of Somali Journalists, to represent them. Instead, RKB management has set up a sweetheart deal with an individual who is posing as a trade union representative. This is a classic case of trade union-busting attempts by the station’s management to undermine legitimate organisation, and take away workers’ rights and freedom of association,” said the petition sent to top UN officials.
The signatories of the petition urged the UN to “end these labour rights violations at Radio Bar Kulan”, “to restore a working atmosphere that enhances respect for workers and human rights” and to “compel Albany to engage in genuine negotiations with the legitimate leadership of NUSOJ for the defence and representation of RKB workers in Kenya and Somalia, in particular regarding those sacked or forced to resign.”
The petition was signed by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliated unions in UK, Ireland, France, Italy, Spain, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Senegal, Guinee Conakry, Djibouti, Mauritania, Congo Brazzaville, Ethiopia, Ghana, South Africa, Somalia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Angola, Sudan, Morocco, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tunisia, Burundi, Mali and Zimbabwe.
The petition is also backed by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa), Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Trades Union Congress of Great Britain (TUC), Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU) as well as Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA).
The petition comes after several journalists left RBK including a prominent award wining senior sports journalist Abdirashid Abdi Ahmed who resigned last Friday, making him the fourth journalist to resign since last month.
“The intimidatory conditions within RBK are having a toll on the future of the station and UN officials must listen to the appeal made by journalists and trade unions from all over the world and take remedial action” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.
“NUSOJ has been vilified by RBK management for daring to expose their unacceptable practices and speak on behalf of journalists too intimidated to raise their voices.” added Osman.
NUSOJ in conjunction with its sister organisations and the trade union movement the world over will continuing exposing and calling for an end to these labour rights abuses.
SBC News Desk