The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has urged media organisations in the country to stop arbitrary retrenchment of journalists and other media workers in their employment.
Mr Deji Elumoye, Chairman of the Lagos Chapter of the union, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Lagos.
He said that the rates at which media organisations were disengaging their workers over indefensible reasons was worrisome, saying the practice should not continue.
Elumoye added that the union was particularly dismayed that most of its members disengaged were owed backlog of salary arrears and were not even paid any entitlement at their exiting.
“We say no to the series of retrenchment of our members and other media workers by their employees in recent times.
“The development is one too many, it is unfortunate, uncalled for, especially as some of them sacked their workers for reasons that can not be justified.
“We were shocked by the news of the retrenchment of about 80 of our members by a leading national newspaper a few weeks ago.
“This is an organisation that had retrenched not long before this last one.
“And come to think of it, the organisation in question had for many years battled with under staffing and is one of the thriving in the industry. So what is the justification?
“The disengaged workers were not paid their entitlements. This is inhumane, unfair and I think it is time this people put a stop to this flagrant abuse of rights,” he said.
The chairman said media organisations could not be forced to employ or retain workers but the employers must abide by the acceptable labour practices in the treatment of their workers.
Elumoye said the the union was monitoring the situation and would take the appropriate steps if forced to do so.
He, however, advised journalists to always prepare themselves for life after journalism as the volatility in the industry could ease them out at anytime.
Elumoye said it was in view of this fact that the union organised regular seminars for members on farming and entrepreneurship.
“We cannot as journalists work for life. So we should be prepared for life after the profession.
“Our entrepreneurship seminar is to ensure that we are still productive and eke out a living even after we have left the job,” he said.
On the Media Salary Structure, the NUJ official said the union was vigorously pursuing the course.
He said an agreement was made with the immediate past administration on the issue and that it was engaging the present government on its implementation.
“You see what we are advancing is a peculiar salary because journalists like teachers and doctors deserve a special salary because of the nature of their job.
“You see journalists have no break, no public holidays, and face hazards, so they are not the normal civil servants and so deserve salary enhancement.
“An agreement was reached with the last government and the issue even got to the level of salaries and wages commission but there has been a lull in engagements and implementation by the present government.
“I think the national leadership of the union met with the Minister of Labour and that of Information two weeks ago on the matter.
“The NUJ is committed to the welfare of its members and we will get there,” Elumoye said.