Members of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) have mandated their leadership, headed by Charles Coffey, to take the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) crafted by the union to media managers for assessment and endorsement, to serve as a policy tool between journalists and their employers.
The CBA, carved and adopted by media practitioners over five years ago, has suffered hitches to reach media managers.
It, among other things, sets US$150 as a minimum salary for a journalist with long years of experience. It also calls for promotion of a journalist who possesses practical and professional experience, study leave for a journalist, refund of expenses incurred by a journalist while in the field, and increment in the salary of a journalist who has acquired a professional degree from a recognized university.
The union’s members, in a discussion on September 29, 2018, in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, where the 54th anniversary of the founding of the organization was observed, conceded that the CBA is long overdue for media managers to endorse it by their signatures.
An official of one of the auxiliary groups of the union, Necus Andrews, in an agitated tone, told the leadership that media managers have continued to humiliate journalists working for them.
He said most journalists earn a monthly salary as low as LRD$1,500 which, he said, is just a daily recess for children going to school.
Mr. Coffey, who spoke at program marking the observance of the PUL’s 54th Anniversary, said the welfare of journalists is essential because it is the basis for the enhancement of professional output or retrogression.
He said Liberia bears record of having the poorest condition for journalists in Africa, where reporters do not have job security and insurance.
He said many media owners do not regard qualification of a journalist which, according to him, the CBA will help to address when endorsed by employers.
Coffey recalled that despite the willingness of the administration of President George Weah to decriminalize the libel laws under the Table Mountain Declaration, journalists continue to be attacked and even killed, citing the murder of Tyron Brown as one of such instances.
Daniel Nyan Konah, PUL secretary general, said earlier that media in Liberia have paved the way for ordinary citizens to learn how to express themselves.
He said ordinary people use the media to express themselves, thereby setting the basis that the media and journalists are important to society.
Mr. Konah, like Coffey, said the CBA seeks the welfare of journalists, to create a vibrant environment for the practice of journalism, characterized by accountability and responsibility.
Daniel C. Gayedyu, Deputy Minister of Information for Administration, who spoke on behalf of the government, said the Weah Administration is committed to repealing sections 11.11, 11.12, and 11.14 of the Penal Law of Liberia which will, in effect, decriminalize speech offenses.
He lauded the PUL for the establishment of the Media Council of Liberia and expressed government’s commitment to providing budgetary support to the union for the construction of its national headquarters.
The 54th anniversary of the PUL in Buchanan was sparsely attended, with less than 75 persons present.