Trade unions

The Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) is the apex union of professional journalists in Bangladesh. It is divided into two fractions—one group is affiliated with ruling Awami League while the other is aligned with another major political party, BNP. It split in the mid-1990s over political allegiance. The pro-AL union has some 4,500 members with 11 units across the country. All units operate as independent organisations according to their respective constitutions. But the constitution of each unit is pre-approved by the BFUJ. The units are affiliated organisations of BFUJ. The Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ) is the biggest unit. The pro-BNP group has some 7,000 members with 14 units across the country, according to one of its former presidents. They have their own offices and almost regularly hold elections to choose their leaders.

The union has a role to play in protecting rights of the journalists and interests of the community. Apart from being vocal about new wage boards for journalists and newspaper employees, its members have been demanding the repeal of all laws and regulations that limit freedom of journalism and intimidate journalists from doing their duties. Top leaders of both factions have direct affiliation with the two big parties and there are examples of some of them participating in programmes of their respective political parties. The pro-government faction is thus seen not opposing the ruling party’s policy even if that goes against the interest of the journalist community.