Journalists have been urged to form their own union to fight against the injustices and exploitation that many of them suffer at the hands of their employers in local media houses. The call to arms was made by Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) Secretary General Tobokani Rari on Saturday at the world press freedom day commemorations in Lobatse.
“You are also workers and we know that you suffer worse injustices than many of the workers out there. Its time you stood up to fight for your rights,” he said.
Journalists had converged in Lobatse to commemorate the world press freedom day, an annual event during which journalists introspect, discuss the challenges that they face in the line of duty and chart the way forward. When he took to the stage, Rari’s efforts to rally journalists with chants of “Viva journalists’ viva!” were met with a lukewarm response from the self conscious journalists. It was then that the outspoken trade unionist reminded journalists that they have every right to chant the slogan as they are also workers.
“Viva babereki Viva!” he chanted once more to a thunderous response from the rejuvenated journalists. Rari said he is aware, from interactions with journalists in various fora, that they are not happy with their working conditions. He said some journalists work for years without employment contracts, while others are paid slave wages.
“We know that you are working under harsh conditions, but you choose to suffer in silence. But you are heroes to many workers in this country because you always champion their struggle by exposing exploitative employers. Its time you fought the same war for yourselves,” said Rari.
He reminded media workers that they are not barred from unionizing because they are not essential services cadres. Rari also encouraged journalists in Botswana to unionize like their counterparts in most countries in the region, including South Africa and Zambia. He commended journalists for a job well done in disseminating information about the workers’ struggle in Botswana. He thanked journalists for their continuous support of the workers movement, saying they have always been supportive of trade unions even when they lost cases against the employer.