The Media Workers Association of Grenada (MWAG) says it will appoint a special committee to carry out preliminary work and engage stakeholders as part of an overall effort to improve wages and working conditions of practitioners.
The announcement was made following what they say was the successful completion of a one-day labour relations workshop at the Ministry of Works Conference room on Wednesday June 13th.
“What the Labour Code does now is that it recognizes work done by whoever including media practitioners and it compensates based on some basic terms” explains MWAG president Rawle Titus.
“People need to show interest. Not stay in the background but come forward and participate in the future meetings and discussions and engage the various stakeholders and players on this issue,” Titus told reporters following Wednesday’s workshop which generated much interest.
Media workers in Grenada are among the lowest paid in the Eastern Caribbean; and MWAG assesses that many media workers here earn less than the set minimum wage for domestic workers which is EC$750.00 per month.
One reporter is yet to receive an increase after working with a company for about ten years while another reporter earns about 700 EC dollars a month.
Senior Labour Officer Reginald Lord, who was one of the workshop facilitators, says the Labour Code which was last updated in 2003, does not cater for the special needs of media workers and as such MWAG should step up their game and lobby for some amendments.
“The system, as it evolved didn’t capture journalism except for making general rules to ensure media workers are entitled to something” declared Lord who worked as a journalist in broadcast and print.
“The Media Workers Association really has to do something to get legal rights to capture the workers who are not part of a bargaining unit. You can get a lot of benefits for your workers”.
Lord’s sentiments were also shared by Michael Horsford who also explained aspects of the Labour Code.
“The Media Workers Association would have to think seriously about becoming some sort of trade union to represent the interest of the workers who are not unionized” said Horsford.
Issues covered at the workshop included minimum wage, over time, vacation leave and termination allowance.
“We have to advocate as media workers to get our part… our end …our fair bargain to be a part of the labour laws,” said Rose Frazer, a journalist with Real FM, based in the northern parish of St. Patrick.
“Not just for me as an upcoming journalist but for those who are looking forward to coming into the field. So overall it was a good exercise,” she added.
Sherry Ann Blackman Stephens, a reporter with the New Today Newspaper said: “It was an eye opener. I agree with them that the Media Workers Association should lobby with other trade unions and other labour organizations”.
“The objective is to have the Labour Code and the relevant laws amended so that media workers can be seen and recognized as a sector and be compensated as a sector so the rules are clear,” Titus said.
More than 20 media workers attended the three hour event organized as part of activities to celebrate Media Week 2012.©