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Somali journalists campaign for freedom

Somali journalists are calling on the UN to restore workers' rights at the UN-funded Radio Bar Kulan (RBK) which broadcasts from Kenya into its troubled and dangerous neighbour. Journalists' unions from 25 African countries and beyond have backed the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) petition, and when NUSOJ General Secretary Omar Osman was in the UK for the National Union of Journalists' conference he signed up the TUC too.

Radio Bar Kulan, run by British PR company Albany Associates with funding from the UN, is accused of labour rights abuses, exploiting and badly treating Somali journalists, according to a report released by the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) in March this year.
The union complains that: “those who are Somali nationals working in Kenya have not been provided with work permits in breach of Kenyan law. Almost all of those working in Somalia were not given a written contract of employment spelling out their terms and conditions of service. They complain about frequent deductions from their salaries and cases where their lives were endangered; threats of and actual sackings, and forced resignations, as well as constant pressure on their editorial integrity from RBK management.”
The management of RBK continues to intimidate journalists and refuses to recognise NUSOJ to represent them. Instead, RKB management has set up a sweetheart deal with an individual posing as a trade union representative. This is a classic case of trade union-busting, taking away workers’ rights and freedom of association. 
The signatories of the petition urged the UN to “end these labour rights violations at Radio Bar Kulan”, “to restore a working atmosphere that enhances respect for workers and human rights” and to “compel Albany to engage in genuine negotiations with the legitimate leadership of NUSOJ for the defence and representation of RKB workers in Kenya and Somalia, in particular regarding those sacked or forced to resign.”

Owen Tudor

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