Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Caucasus: Dec '09/Jan ‘10

IWPR advises Georgian journalists on setting up their own trade union.
By
IWPR is helping the Georgian regional media network – an IWPR project that become an independent organisation – to establish the first ever trade union for regional journalists in Georgia.

 

The network has already sent its representatives to various parts of the country to talk to local journalists about the plans. The consultations will continue until the end of February, after which a journalists’ trade union will be officially launched.

 

Nino Chibchiuri, a member of the network’s Shida Kartli team, who came up with the idea to set up the union, said, “We’ve already had preliminary talks with local journalists, and I can say there’s huge interest in the idea.

 

“Already, we have up to 50 journalists registered. Judging from what we know, however, the number will gradually increase.”

 

Tamuna Shonia, who leads the network’s office in Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region, said, “I am absolutely sure the project will be a success, since it’s something that is really important and necessary.



“For years, IWPR has been sharing knowledge and experience with us. And now its helping us make this initiative come true, which every one of us appreciates greatly.”



IWPR not only created the journalism network initially, and trained its journalists, but has provided technical support since the completion of the two-year project. The journalists regularly meet at IWPR’s Tbilisi office, and have discussed plans for the union with IWPR staff.



"We welcomed the idea for a union, and were able to give them technical know-how on the operations of journalist unions in other countries," Shorena Ratiani, IWPR's Caucasus Director, said.



"We look forward to helping the union attract members to develop its legal basis and to protect the rights of journalists all across Georgia."



The idea has received the enthusiastic support of the Georgian teachers and scientists’ free trade union.



“There are many different professional unions in Georgia, however, for some reason, we have never had a journalists’ trade union before. It would be great, if such an organisation were established. We, for our part, will help it to the best of our ability,” said the union’s leader Manana Gurchumelidze.



“Journalists happen to have their rights violated more often than anybody else, and if there’s such a trade union, they will be better protected.

 

“Several years ago, we, too, started from scratch, and now we are a viable organisation boasting thousands of members.”

 

Ukrainian media expert Yuri Storozhuk, who trained participants of IWPR’s Georgia Regional Media Network project for two years, said the idea was “a very positive enterprise”.

 

“I feel immensely proud that the journalists, with whom I worked for two years, have made such great progress professionally and are doing such an important work now,” he said.

 

Journalists across the region have welcomed plans for the new union.

 

Maia Kalabegashvili, senior editor of newspaper Spektri, said, “It’s surprising that no one has thought of doing something like this before. I have already told my journalists about the initiative, and they are all just delighted.”

 

Irakli Managadze from the Expressnews news agency, said, “There has never been such a thing as a journalists trade union in Georgia before. Personally, I would be happy to join such a union. It’s a really good idea!”

 

More IWPR's Global Voices