The European Federation of Journalists today welcomed a pay deal agreed by the two German unions of journalists Ver.di and Deutsche Journalisten Verband (DJV) and the German Association of Newspaper Publishers (BDZV) following talks which had taken place after four weeks of industrial action. Over 14,000 journalists are covered by the agreement.
“Then unions reached a deal based upon sensible compromise and negotiation and we welcome the settlement of the conflict,” said EFJ General Secretary Aidan White, “but at the same time we condemn the surprisingly aggressive and negative approach of the employers towards journalists”.
The initial proposals of the BDZV were provocative and unacceptable said the unions. Among other things, the BDZV sought to increase working time, to reduce holidays and to lower holiday pay.
On 13 January, representatives from the EFJ protested outside the Brussels offices of the European Newspaper Publishers Association (ENPA) calling upon the ENPA to oppose the hard line being taken by the BDZV. On 28 January, following a ballot issued by the unions, close to 95 percent of their journalistic members voted to support a nationwide strike. On 29 January 2004, the first strikes began in over 70 newsrooms. Several rounds of negotiations between unions and newspaper publishers took place, and the final agreement was only achieved after a marathon l6-hour session.
The major points of conflict have been resolved. The agreement scaled holiday leave according to age, instead of reducing it to a unique amount. The proposed increase in working hours has been avoided. Salaries have not been cut as proposed by employers, but there was no agreement for increases according to the inflation rate. The agreement will be put for endorsement to union members in the coming days.
“This agreement underpins the union arguments that quality of media depends on decent working conditions for journalists. The arguments for cuts based on a poor advertisement market put forward by employers have been totally unacceptable”, said White. “This deal recognises that major cuts in journalists’ working conditions are not the answer to short term funding crises in the media.”
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The EFJ represents over 250,000 journalists in more than 30 countries