Ahead of the upcoming elections of Egypt’s Press Syndicate that will include elections of its head and half of the syndicate’s board members, many chronic problems—on top of them the unfair dismissal of journalists—dominated the meetings and discussions held by the candidates who recently conducted extensive visits to the headquarters of several newspapers to explain their programmes and campaign for themselves.
One of the prominent candidates in the race is Hanan Fikry—who is seeking the renewal of her current position as a member in the Press Syndicate’s council and head of the Development and Training Committee—told Daily News Egypt on Wednesday that her programme is highlighting the unfair dismissal of journalists that has recently become an almost epidemic phenomenon.
Regarding the reasons behind this phenomenon, she said that the current economic crisis that hit Egypt is considered one of the main reasons, since it negatively affected the income of several newspapers, especially following the flotation of the Egyptian pound and the unprecedented increase of the US dollar against it.
“We should first highlight the main reasons behind the crisis in order to achieve solutions for it. The deteriorating economic conditions that violently hit Egypt recently are the main reasons for the phenomenon; however, we hope as the economy gets better, it will reach an end,” she explained.
Concerning the main solutions included in her programme, Hanan noted that she focuses on reaching solutions between any journalistic institution and its journalists when they face economic crisis, stressing the need of the syndicate to force outlets to use other measures than the unfair dismissal of journalists, also saying that the Egyptian pound’s flotation pushed a number of newspapers in Egypt to minimise the number of its employees and pages.
In the same context, she stated that print journalists are the ones that increasingly face unfair dismissal due to the economic crises and the dominance of online media, saying that her programme provides rescue strategies that mainly depend on providing training to journalists for the sake of enriching the content of print journalism, so the reader will find different and rich content rather than the brief and rapidly published ones of online outlets.
“Radical change in editorial policies in print journalism through modifying its content will force the reader to heavily depend on print to inform himself about more details on any given incident. This will contribute effectively to preventing the unfair dismissal of journalists and will stop the slow death of print journalism,” she added.
She further called on journalists and the Press Syndicate to effectively work on providing help to the government to reach proper solutions to the current economic crisis through holding a public conference sponsored by the syndicate to issue suggestions for ending the economic crisis.
Meanwhile, she added that her programme is suggesting that each newspaper should pay a certain amount of money to the syndicate for the sake of using it as monetary aid for journalists who are facing unfair dismissal; however, she said that the application of these suggestions will be somewhat difficult nowadays due to the currently prevalent economic crisis in Egypt.
Objecting the idea that the economic crisis is the main reason for the unfair dismissal of journalists, the current secretary general of the Press Syndicate, Gamal Abdel-Rehim, who is also running in the elections to renew his position, told Daily News Egypt on Wednesday that unfair dismissals are not related to the economic crisis that Egypt is facing.
He argued that the newspapers that face economic crises should follow legal paths in ending its relations with journalists without subjecting them to unfair dismissals, such as the privately-run newspaper El Masry El Youm did by conducting financial settlements with nearly 84 journalists when it faced economic crisis and granted them their full rights.
“On a regular basis, privately-run and partisan newspapers carry out unfair dismissals against their journalists, unlike the state-run newspapers that are regularly following legal ways in ending their relations with journalists under the eyes and supervision of the syndicate,” he added.
Regarding his main solutions for the unfair dismissal phenomenon, Abdel-Rehim asserted the necessity of strict interference from the syndicate to support the journalist who has been subjected to or is about to face unfair dismissal.
“The syndicate’s stance against any journalistic institution that conducts unfair dismissal against journalists should be firm. The syndicate’s actions should be focused around the possibility of suspending the recognition of any newspaper that has been proven to be responsible for the unfair dismissal of journalists,” he stressed.
He furthermore added that the syndicate should get involved in settling any dispute that erupts between a journalist and his institution and end it legally. Moreover, it should keep an eye on the contracts between journalists and their newspapers, and whenever the newspaper is intending to end the journalist’s contract, the syndicate should intervene to force the newspaper to fully meet the legal and financial rights of the journalist, he concluded.