European Journalists Condemn Bid to Sideline Unions In Portugal Over Media Reforms

The International Federation of Journalists and its regional organisation the European Federation of Journalists today protested over the failure of the authorities in Portugal to include journalists in their discussions over a range of changes proposed for the media and communications sector.

The government is preparing a programme of reforms in the communications area including new rules on advertising and a law on operation of radio but they have done so without consulting the trade unions and associations in the sector, including the journalists’ union, which is affiliated to the IFJ and EFJ.

“It is completely unacceptable that major changes in rules governing the professional, economic and social conditions of media should be put forward without consultation with the people working in the sector,” said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ and EFJ.

He said international journalists’ groups supported the appeal by the Sindicato dos Jornalistas to the President of Portugal that no new rules should be implemented without proper consultation and that where this has not happened such rules would be illegitimate.

The journalists’ union in Portugal is particularly angry because media employers and their associations have been fully involved in a consultation process. “This smacks of exclusive treatment for media employers and is a slap in the face for the principle of social dialogue,” said White. “It is completely unacceptable.”

The IFJ says that parliamentarians should not provide the legislative authority for the government to go ahead with the new law on radio while trade union organisations are not included in the process of consultation and discussion. “It would be wrong to validate a process that has failed to meet the standards of democracy that changes of this importance demand,” said White. “The changes are not acceptable when they are delivered on the back of an attack on basic trade union rights.”

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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries