The LCMP’s Strategic Objective is to develop a participatory labour movement that uses radio, television and print media as a tool for awareness and education on labour and socio-economic political issues to ensure that the trade union movement and civil society in South Africa and selected Southern African countries is strengthened, informed, mobilized and organised to respond to socio-economic and political challenges that confront it through an extensive media, education and organising strategy.
This is the project that launched our organisation. In 1997, a collective of labour service organisations carried out a radio pilot project, called Workers’ World. It consisted of 12 weekly 30-minute slots on Bush Radio, a Cape Town-based community radio station, focusing on issues relevant to workers and the labour movement.
The project was very successful, and Workers’ World Radio Productions was launched in August 1999 to take it forward and turning this into a national project, broadcasting in five languages that involved:
- Building partnerships with community radio stations across the country
- Training radio presenters and union activists, in labour issues and radio presentation, to create a pool of people with the skills to host the labour shows on over 40 community radio stations nationally.
- Developing our own capacity, by employing and training multilingual staff in all aspects of radio production and working class politics.
The demanding schedule involved identifying issues of importance to trade unionists, and researching and producing news and documentary radio shows in five languages.
We then planned for broadcast, by preparing presenters to host a phone in talk show on the issues raised by the documentary features and with local studio guests relevant to the topic.
This has been hugely successful, but also extremely demanding. Over the years, we have reached millions of ordinary working class people, and our radio shows have had excellent audience evaluations.
Since 2012 we trained our producers in investigative journalism so that they could produce more in depth and critical pieces. As a result they produced work on some of the flash points in the South African labour market, including Farm workers, Call centre workers, the conditions of rock-drillers in the mining industry, female mineworkers, cleaners, security guards and car guards.
More recently, due to the lack of capacity in shop stewards identified in the Naledi survey and serious political and organisational weaknesses within the working class relative to the issues confronting it in this period of crises, we have shifted the focus of our work somewhat. We have scaled back on radio production, and have spent more time doing field work and training and capacity building of trade union and community activists.
We are also widening the distribution of the radio shows by making them available as podcasts.