Freelance journalists feel neglected

The Namibia Media Professionals Union is determined to mobilise journalists in Namibia under one umbrella to defend their interests.

01 December 2021 | Labour

NAMPA

WINDHOEK

The state of freelance journalists in Namibia is deeply worrisome in the absence of fixed remuneration rates, proper working conditions and job security, journalist Tileni Mongudhi says.

For Mongudhi, freelancers are virtually on their own and at the mercy of media house bosses, whose chief preoccupation is maximising profits.

He said the time is ripe for media practitioners to set up industry standards to avoid the further exploitation of journalists, freelancers and interns in particular.

Mongudhi made these observations at a two-day workshop organised by the Namibia Media Professionals Union (Nampu) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).

The workshop dealt with a barrage of issues, including state of the media industry, labour rights, trade union alliances, cybersecurity and the safety of journalists.

It was attended by members of the Nampu executive, journalists working in the private and public media, trade union leaders and labour rights experts.

Fixed rates

At present, freelance journalists are paid anything between N$0.50 and N$2.00 per word.

The news organisations have the prerogative to determine this rate.

“Currently, there is no fixed payment for freelancers. As a union, we must come together and say freelancers have unique needs and set up industry standards based on the quality of the story. We can’t continue this way,” Mongudhi said.

He said the cost of producing a story and tax obligations amongst others must be factored in when remunerating freelancers.

“If there is a rate for lawyers, engineers, medical doctors and others, why can’t there be one for us?”

Adding his voice, Nampu secretary-general Sakeus Iikela said the union is determined to mobilise journalists in Namibia under one umbrella to defend their rights and welfare.

He emphasised that Nampu has opened its doors to all journalists in Namibia.

“Nampu has already outlined plans to reach out to all journalists in the country through a recruitment campaign that will take off very soon,” Iikela said.

From the IFJ, its director for the Africa office, Pa Louis Thomasi, said: “Any employer who denies any journalist his or her right to join a union of his or her choice has violated the right to freedom of association and should be challenged in court. We will not negotiate for the rights that we already have,” Thomasi said, also challenging journalists to speak out against injustices that confront them.

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