The Media Association of Solomon Islands (MASI) is concerned about the rising dismissal of workers in the media industry.
While the impact of COVID-19 has greatly affected the media industry, MASI says there is no reason for the rights of workers to be disregarded.
MASI President, Georgina Kekea says it is sad to see that workers in the media industry were found to be dismissed without due process.
She says the labor laws clearly state the processes for dismissal and media companies must adhere to the processes in place - COVID or not.
“The labor laws clearly state how termination should be done. When terminating a worker employers must follow certain procedures. This can include verbal warning, written warning and suspension, before termination.
“Reasons for termination must be substantiated. For example, a worker can be instantly dismissed if he or she is found guilty of committing a criminal offence such as workplace theft or of causing bodily harm to another employee or his or her employer”.
Ms Kekea says the media thrives on accountability and transparency and it should fulfill that role it portrays in society.
“We cannot just report on discrepancies of others and turn a blind eye to ours. It is not how we should work. We should uphold the ethics and values that we stand for,” Ms Kekea says.
She adds the least companies should do is to communicate properly with their staff and find ways to ensure a win-win situation for all.
She says there is no doubt covid has impacted badly on businesses and companies. She however, says this should not serve as an excuse to bypass existing labour laws.
The media industry in Solomon Islands is severely affected at this point in time and most companies are continuing to place measures to keep their operations going.
“While MASI sympathises with the workers, I must also call on the government to please support local media companies at this point in time.
“I know the media has played a crucial role in ensuring the public are being kept informed during this time of State of Public Health Emergency” Ms Kekea says.
She says the least the government can do is to improve its payout facility, especially at this time of economic crisis.
She says if the companies or service providers are not adhering to certain processes and procedures in the government procurement and financial system, then the officers tasked to do the job in the government should inform them accordingly.
“Government talks of stimulating the economy. This is how it should stimulate the economy so that companies like those in the media can be able to operate and maintain their services for the people while at the same time, able to keep their staff,” the MASI President says.
Ms Kekea says especially at this time, it is more important media workers with experience, especially journalists are kept in the newsrooms to ensure there is quality reporting.
The media landscape in Solomon Islands is very small.
Currently there are only two newspaper companies, a national radio, three main FM radio stations in Honiara, a television network and four online news platforms.
The others in the media industry are Small and Medium Enterprises providing services in videography, photography, printing and live streaming.