The President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Joe Ajaero, has called for improved pay, insurance coverage, and pension benefits for journalists nationwide. During a visit to the President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Dr. Chris Isiguzo, in Abuja, Ajaero emphasized the critical role journalists have played in Nigeria’s independence and ongoing democracy, lamenting that many journalists still struggle to receive their salaries.

Ajaero highlighted the deteriorating state of journalism despite technological advancements, noting that journalists’ welfare is often neglected. He said, “Journalists are professionals fighting for everyone, yet no one fights for them, not even themselves. They work tirelessly, including weekends and holidays, while reporting on those who enjoy these breaks.”

He further criticized the lack of solidarity among journalists, pointing out that when a journalist is sacked or goes unpaid for extended periods, their colleagues rarely report on such injustices.

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Ajaero proposed establishing a consultative mechanism to negotiate a minimum wage for journalists every two years, ensuring better financial security for those in the profession. He also called for pensions and insurance coverage to support journalists, especially after retirement.

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Emphasizing the need for accountability, Ajaero argued that non-payment of journalists’ salaries should be treated as a criminal offense. While acknowledging the financial difficulties faced by publishers, he insisted that this should not excuse neglecting journalists’ basic rights, particularly timely salary payments. “Most reporters spend their meager salaries on transportation for their jobs, which is unacceptable,” he added.

Ajaero also mentioned the need to regulate online media practices and integrate online journalists into the NUJ framework to ensure consistent standards and accountability.

Dr. Isiguzo, in response, highlighted NUJ’s efforts to address the challenges within journalism. He mentioned an ongoing review of the Code of Ethics to define employers’ responsibilities towards media workers. Additionally, Isiguzo pointed out issues with the collection of check-off dues, stating, “Our check-off dues don’t come to the NUJ. Where it goes, we don’t know. That is one key issue that needs to be addressed.”

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