The Government has been called upon to extend the right to join a trade union and to go on strike to all professions without discrimination.
A media expert Timothy Kitundu made the call in Zanzibar early this week while presenting a paper on the rights of media practitioners in the country at an annual ethics symposium conducted by the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT).
He called upon the government to fight anti-trade union discrimination by private sector employers through prosecutions and adequate financial penalties, saying legal stipulations must be changed to make it practicable to hold a strike within the law.
“The private sector has become the most prominent employer, yet most of them are interested in productivity and profit and not in transparency or remuneration issues,” said Kitundu.
He said it was sad to note that journalists were in the forefront to advocate for the rights of others but failed to do so when it came to theirs, attributing it to lack of a trade union to facilitate it.
A scribe and an editor with a weekly paper Mwanahalisi Jabir Idrisa said most journalists had no working contracts and were struggling to survive against all odds.
“We are yet to get a proper remedy for our problems as journalists. We need to come up with a strong trade union for the media that will advocate for our rights,” said Idrisa.
The Tanzania Human Rights Report 2011 by the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) indicates that most journalists are easily manipulated due to lack of knowledge about the industry and their poor bargaining power.
“The journalism business is often a mere source of hand to mouth income for survival and not a long term career because of the financial burden,” reads the report in part.
The report goes on to mention another challenge facing journalists as lack of employment contracts saying majority of them work without employment contracts making them vulnerable to any abuse by their employers.