By Yankuba Jallow
The Gambia Press Union (GPU) has on Friday launched a 19.5 million dalasis project geared towards promoting the welfare and safety of journalists in The Gambia.
The project will last for 2 years and 6 months and the donor organization is Civil Society in Development (CISU).
Dubbed the biggest ever GPU Project, the Secretary-General of the Union, Saikou Jammeh indicated that the project aims at promoting the welfare and safety of journalists, promote gender equality in the media, strengthening professional media organizations and to reposition the Union from being a resistant movement to a proactive trade union and professional organization.
GPU As a Proactive Trade Union
Mr. Jammeh said the project will build and strengthen the capacity of their staff and as well build and strengthen oversight capacity of the Executive Committee of the Union. Also, he pointed out that the project would improve financial and administrative routines in the Union through policies.
He detailed that they would formulate policies on anti-corruption, procurement, operational manual and collective bargaining.
Welfare of Journalists
It is an undisputable fact that most of the media houses employ people without employment contracts and contract letters without standard wages (salaries). The majority of the media practitioners do not enter into collective bargaining with their employers. Also, they do not have the requisite skills to do salary negotiation.
According to Jammeh, this project comes to look into these and other affairs of journalists. He said they will go into a rigorous campaign where they will try to persuade each and every media practitioner to join the Union. He indicated that they want to ensure that media practitioners have social security entitlements.
Safety of Journalists
Jammeh said this project will provide journalists with safety jackets, press cards and training.
He said the project would fight against sexual harassment in the media and as well as empower Women Journalists Association –The Gambia. He added that it would ensure that media houses provide journalists with job security and honour payment of their wages on time.
Also, Jammeh said the project will support GPU affiliate associations to better strengthen them in their activities as majority of the affiliates are dormant.
In his contribution, Demba A. Jawo, an ex-Minister of Information and Communication said the GPU has not been effectively operating as a trade union over the years because of capacity and other prevailing problems. He added that with this project, the GPU would now become more vibrant.
Sheriff Bojang Jnr. the President of the GPU said the welfare of the journalist is very paramount for the Union.
“The welfare of journalists is very important and it has always been an interest of the Union,” Bojang Jnr. said.