Namibian media workers in the journalism sector have today established a labour union 30 years after Independence.
Namibia has had many labour unions since before the country became independent. Several more unions were established after Independence to fight for the interests of Namibian workers.
Apart from a “journalists association” which existed for a brief period in the late 1990s the idea of a union to represent media workers in the journalism field never saw the light of day.
Until a few months ago when a young and maverick journalist crossed swords with the President of Namibia at a press conference meant to provide information on the situation of Covid-19 in Namibia.
“We have had in the past numerous instances where journalists were subjected to unfair labour practices, and we felt that in order to address these issues we need a legal entity which will represent the interests of journalists and be able to be the voice of journalists apart from all other advocacy organisations that advocate for the freedom of expression,” said Mr Sakeus Iikela, the secretary general of the Namibia Media Professional Union.
“This is the first union for journalists that is being established today in Namibia. The idea of forming a union in Namibia has been conceived over the past few decades but it never materialized.
“This is the first time that we as journalists in Namibia are forming a labour union to actually look at the labour practices journalists are subjected to and to represent the interests of journalists in terms of employment conditions.”
Iikela said that the application has been filed with the Office of the Labour Commissioner for recognition.
The unionist said so far they have not encountered an employer who says their employee will not belong to the union.
“After we start with the recruitment process for members, that is when we may pick up that issue of employers who say they don’t want their journalists to join the union. But our membership is voluntary. You join on a voluntary basis. You join the union if you believe that the objectives of the union will better represent your interests,” Iikela said.
On the way forward Iikela said that: “We have to start working to address some of the issues that are prevalent in the media, issues of exploiting interns, issues of not adequately remunerating journalists for their work; and journalists who are overworked. Those are some of the broad issues we are going to tackle this year.”
The leadership of the union which was elected today is as follows:
Secretary General – Sakeus Iikela
Deputy Secretary General – Jemima Beukes
Information Secretary – Charmaine Ngatjiheue
Treasurer – Timo Shihepo
Organiser – Augetto Graig
Additional Members – Esther Mbathera, Tuyeimo Haidula, Tileni Mongudhi and Edward Mumbuu.
In the photo: From left to right, Edward Mumbuu, Sakeus Iikela, Charmaine Ngatjiheue, Timo Shihepo, and Augetto Graig