European Journalists Condemn German “Greed and Hypocrisy” As Publishers Target Social Standards

See also Press Release of German Union Ver.di

The International Federation of Journalists and its regional group, the European Federation of Journalists, today accused German media of “greed and hypocrisy” after employers produced a list of demands in talks with unions that threaten to reduce dramatically social standards in editorial departments across the country.

“The press employers in Europe’s leading media market, motivated by greed and self- interest, are planning a savage attack on the social fabric of German journalism,” said Aidan White, EFJ and IFJ General Secretary. “If they succeed, it will threaten standards right across the European Union.”

The international response follows Friday’s discussions between German press employers, the BDZV, and the Deutscher Journalisten Verband and the Deutsche Journalisten Union in Ver di, over the terms of a new national contract. Employers shocked union negotiators with their demands to cut time off for holidays, reduce the levels of holiday pay and increase working time to 40 hours a week.

“These are only the major elements of a shopping list for change which will destroy long-established working standards in German journalism,” said White. “It is completely unacceptable and journalists throughout Europe will give their full support to German colleagues who oppose these moves.”

The IFJ says that German press employers, who are buying up major publishing interests throughout the countries of central and eastern Europe are engaged in a “rush to the bottom” to drag down social standards at home while promising to regenerate and stimulate press markets abroad. “This is hypocrisy of a high order,” said White. “The German employer strategy for the European media landscape is to attack jobs, lower working conditions and make journalists at home pay for their investments abroad.”

The EFJ says that in recent years employment policy in the German media has created a “pool of exploited labour in journalism.” The country has one of the biggest freelance sectors in Europe. “Many of these jobs are poorly protected and the workforce is vulnerable and as a result quality in press and the media generally is at risk,” said White.

The EFJ is calling on its 200,000 members in national organisations throughout Europe to support its two German affiliates as they prepare for fresh negotiations on October 30. “More is at stake here than a few clauses in one national contract,” said White. “The implications for journalism across Europe are enormous.”

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