By Matia Samuel Timatio
The Executive Director of the Association for Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS) said the welfare of journalists in South Sudan should be prioritized to promote the basic wellbeing of the journalists and boost the professional performances.
Michael Duku, the AMDISS Executive Director was speaking in a panel discussion on the topic of what should be done to improve journalists’ welfare in South Sudan during a two days capacity Building Training on Digital Media, Trade Union Reforms and Youth Recruitment organized by UJOSS with Support from International Federation of Journalists in Africa.
Duku said without the welfare and happiness of a journalist, it affects the ethical conduct, efficiency and credibility of the journalists (profession).
He cited that South Sudan Journalists and Africa as a whole is facing the issues of security, inadequate or refraction for services and no benefits which are hindering the welfare of the journalists in South Sudan.
“In South Sudan, when I think of welfare, I think of the following, the salary payments, and the delay alone, even if how small it is, should not delay. I think of overtime, are we paying over time or not? I think about compensation because there are people who work from January to December, I think about pensions, when we leave this profession do we have pensions which are going to be paid, so those are category one,” Duku submitted.
“Now the other category which is of social efforts is the transport, how do we facilitate transportation? How do you get airtime? How do you get better allowance when a journalist goes out” he questioned.
The AMDISS executive director suggested that the labour law which in the Labour Act 2017 should be built analyzed and implemented in letter and spirit adding that the minimum wages for journalists need to be established.
He noted that the union of Journalists as an institution should be strengthened to be a strong union to address journalists’ affairs.
Meanwhile Johnson Juma Batal the Safety and protection officer from UJOSS urged the media houses to follow legal procedures for journalists’ recruitments.
“When you follow the correct and legal procedure to recruit a journalist in your media house, you will have the binding agreements that both parties will agree upon and sign including the minimum wages of how much to be paid and this will only happen when we as journalists are also professional and not desperate and lower yourself to take anything which will be given to you” Johnson pointed.
He further said there is need to practice the media contract act and labour act of the country that pushes for some minimum wages for media workers.
“So, if we push for that and we see that it works, it will help journalists to get certain level of life and another thing is, the Unprocedural termination of contracts, you see, sometimes media owners can just wake up one day because they don’t like that journalist and say, you are no longer part of my institution just because of one or two mistakes they chase you, sometimes you will feel you are not safe,” the safety officer underscored.