The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) berates the unrelenting exploitation and abuse of labour rights of media workers working at the UN funded Radio Bar Kulan based in Nairobi, Kenya.
Journalists working at Radio Bar Kulan in Nairobi and in Somalia are still facing precarious, insecure and unprotected work conditions at the radio station, which is ran by a UK-based company, Albany Associates with full fund support by the United Nations Support Office for AMISOM.
Media workers, including journalists, of this radio station get few benefits, they lack collective representation because their employer is hostile to trade union and representation of collective interest of their journalists, and worst to all these workers have little or no job security..
Somali journalists operating in the Nairobi base of the Radio station are still without work permits. There are no efforts on the part of the employer to formalise and regularise their work permits. In other words, Albany Associates perpetrates illegal employment making it easy for it to exploit these vulnerable workers.
These mistreatments and suffering of Radio Bar Kulan media workers are impaired by premeditated plans of Albany Associates to move the radio station to Mogadishu from its current base in Nairobi. There are strong concerns that the intention behind the proposed relocation is to achieve the Company’s plan to further downgrade the wages and conditions of the workers.
It is believed that the company considers it more profitable to relocate and operate in Mogadishu since it will conveniently evade Kenya’s progressive labour laws so as to be able to further review downward the salaries of the journalists from the present $900 to $200. Besides, it must be noted that not all the journalists that are paid $900. Albany Associates is not a responsible employer.
NUSOJ’s report released on 9 March 2012 found out abuses, exploitation and maltreatments of journalists committed by Radio Bar Kulan after journalists who currently work for and those who left or forced to resign complained to the union over salaries of journalists, benefits and working conditions as well.
Currently there is growing degree of uncertainty of continuing employment for the journalists working at this station. Journalists are worried about reduced income levels, increased lack of occupational safety and career development.
NUSOJ calls on the UN, as the funding institution, not to allow the difficult working conditions, bad treatment and illegal employment of journalists to continue. It is bad enough that Albany is a contractor for the UN, but to allow them to continue to abuse and impede on fundamental labour and human rights is to infer that the UN is not sincerely committed to its mandate to promote civil liberties and social justice.
“We denounce precarious working conditions because they undermine and harm human rights and dignity. This radio station continues to employ journalists in conditions of limitless unfair treatments,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General. “It is time to end the use of UN money to exploit and abuse journalists, and to start to give journalists secure and protected jobs”.
NUSOJ strongly believes that non-Somali companies, now in the case of Albany Associates, should not be treated above the law, and universal respect for labour rights, and must be pressed to protect the rights of workers.
Rather than address and commit to improving the working conditions of concerned media workers and ending publicized exploitation and abuse at the radio station, Albany Associate, which outrageously dragged in the UN’s support office for AMISOM to come in to salvage its messy reputation of exploiting and abusing journalists, has undertaken the task to undermining independent and democratic journalists trade union. This it is doing in concert with some persons within the Transitional Federal Government.
“In place of using UN funds to increase salaries, benefits, and working conditions of journalists and other workers of this radio station, it is sad such resources are spent to undermine the media of Somalia, and this is the worst to be expected,” declared Osman.
Foreigners employed by Albany Associates to manage this radio station still continue to deny journalists their fundamental right to editorial freedom, which means journalists at this station are denied their fundamental right to freedom of thought and conscience.
“Journalists at this station have no labour rights, salaries are exploitative and safety risks are extreme. This company wants to gain acceptance and funding from the global community to finance its activities after UN funding ends but it has been refusing to respect labour rights of journalists,” said Osman. “Hidden faces of this company must be exposed and media workers working for this radio station must work in decent conditions”.
NUSOJ will release wide-ranging report on efforts of union busting; undermining booming private media sector, unconcealed conspiracy against independent and respected collective voice of journalists.