<align="justify">Leaders and experts of journalists’ unions and associations from over 20 European countries met in Tallinn on 5-6 November for a Conference entitled “East Meets West: Social Dialogue in the Media Sector”. The Conference was organised by the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) with the support of the European Commission and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.
Participants noted that globalisation and the free movement of capital in Europe cannot be separated from protection of employees' rights. They also condemned poor social standards in the media sector in Central and Eastern Europe.
Three workshops were organised: social dialogue in media companies, union building and European works councils. The conclusions and action-plan of the conference are here below.
- Press Release EFJ Conference condemns Double Standards in European Media
I. Social Dialogue in Media Companies
• It is necessary to stop and to completely eliminate double standards existing in one multinational company, regardless of the country.
• There is a lack of good tradition in social and cultural dialogue in many post-socialist countries;
• The culture of dialogue is not expanding, since the investment process of companies coming from Western Europe is not accompanied by the tradition of social dialogue, which exists and functions at different levels in the parent countries of these companies.
• It is necessary to warn and inform the unions, but also the owners and other institutions in Western Europe on the way in which these companies are operating in CEE countries, and to ask in every action for the support of the unions and international institutions, in order to improve the communication and to force employers to become engaged in social dialogue.
• It is unacceptable for media owners from countries with a long tradition of unionism not to respect even the essential right to create unions and to organise, or the right for collective bargaining.
• It would be desirable to achieve a situation in which the relations and social dialogue in a company investing in a new market would be maintained in that market in the same fashion as they are maintained in that company's parent country.
ACTION PLAN :
• Inform local colleagues country-by-country on conclusions of the Tallinn meeting;
• All bad practice in social dialogue needs to be made public; journalists' associations and unions in parent countries of investor companies should be invited to publicly call to account the owners which do not respect workers rights.
• Inform local managers in foreign-owned companies to respect deadlines for social dialogue and give them time to prepare for its commencement.
• Reach a decision that professional associations or unions are those that need to initiate social dialogue within a given country. In that process, the assistance and support of corresponding journalists' associations and unions in parent countries of multinational companies are extremely important.
• Wherever possible, common language needs to be found between different journalists' organisations, and joint front needs to be created towards employers in order to develop social dialogue.
II/ Union Building
• Although unions are different from each others and they had emerged from and with different traditions, all recognised that the priority was to build strong union organisations at the workplace to defend their members interests.
• Different unions were having different degrees of success but all accepted that recruitment was a priority and the life-blood of union work.
• Only with good work place organisation could the union effectively represent its members.
• All recognised that they were, to varying degrees facing an offensive by the employers on existing agreements, pay, working conditions and job security.
• In many cases the state did not provide a positive framework within which the unions could stand up to the employers. And unions had limited resources in what was, in many cases, an unequal struggle.
• The EU Directives on European Works Councils and on information/consultation offer opportunities for progress, but limited local resources mean that it would not always be possible to make the best use of these opportunities.
• Delegates recognised the value of being able to meet together to exchange experiences, discuss matters of common concern and seek out solutions. They valued solidarity support, such as that being given by the National Union of Journalists in Britain was giving the Ukrainian unions with training courses on a wide range topics related to union building. Sister unions within the EFJ could also consider how they could help with specific projects.
• The need for targeted recruitment projects, with financial support was suggested. There was an overall co-ordinating role for the EFJ with regional backup (possibly a regional office) for a limited time. A regional recruitment task force, operating with ‘best practices’ should also be considered.
• Many unions recognised the ‘added value’ of so called ‘fringe benefits ‘unions could offer both for recruitment and retention of members. This ‘social role’ could include medical/dental insurance and treatment, unemployment benefits, professional training, and holidays. Some unions already operated certain fringe benefits, which was received positively by members.
• The wide ranging discussions during this session resulted in a lack of time to consider proposals in any detail, but should be seen as part of a debate that the EFJ should continue.
III/ European Works Councils
• Major European media companies covered by the EWC directive are not always identified by the EFJ or by unions themselves;
• Unionists in the media sector need more practical information about the implementation of EWCs;
• Unions in new EU member states need to coordinate their work with the unions from the company of origine and with the EFJ. For the time being, the social environment in new EU member states is hostile to EWCs and to information/consultation in general;
• Good practices from Orkla and Schibsted need to be developed in other companies such as Sanoma, W.A.Z. or even non-EU companies such as Ringier and News Corp, since the EU Directives is implemented in the countries of activities, independently from the country of origin of the company.
• Research: the EFJ will make a survey, in liaison with its Labour rights expert group (LAREG) and member union in order to identify all companies obliged by directive 94/45 to implement EWCs. Existing EWC agreements and contact persons in the media sector should also be published on the EFJ Website.
• Tool: the EFJ will produce a handbook on EWCs, explaining why they are necessary, what has to be done by both parties, who works in it and how they work.
• Action: every union from companies concerned by EWCs, especially unions from the mother companies, should inform their members and representatives about EWCs and start working on developing EWCs using good practices at Orkla or Schibsted.
• Timetable: this action-plan needs to be fulfilled in the next three years.
Tallinn, 6 November 2004