EFJ writes to the Serbian Prime Minister to Defend Journalists' Working Conditions

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) together with the Journalists Union of Serbia (SINOS) writes to Aleksandar Vucic, Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia, about new Labour Law and Media Reform legislations - drafted by the Serbian authorities without any proper consultation procedures - which will have a major negative impact on the working conditions of Serbian journalists and media workers. The letter urges the Serbian Prime Minister to consult trade union representatives on legislation affecting journalists' working conditions, freedom of the press and access to information.


To : Aleksandar Vucic
Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia

Dear Prime Minister,

We write to you on behalf of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the regional group of the International Federation of Journalists representing over 320.000 journalists in 40 European countries.

We just come back from a two-days meeting organised by one of our three affiliates in Serbia, the Serbian Union of Journalists (SINOS), in which we discussed with journalists, media and labour experts the media reform, the draft labour law and overall working conditions of journalists.

We were pleased that a representative from the Ministry of Labour as well as the representative of the media department of the OSCE Mission to Serbia, were present in the meeting.

The labour law, if passed by the Parliament, would have a major negative impact on the working conditions of Serbian journalists and media workers.

As pointed out in the 2013 Serbia Progress Report, social protection systems, labour relations and social dialogue need to be substantially strengthened, notably at the tripartite level of social dialogue

We have been monitoring the working conditions of journalists in Serbia for years and the situation remains destitute. We are extremely astonished that the new labour law will not improve overall conditions of employed staff including journalists as suggested by the European Commission. Instead, it will worsen the already precarious and insecure conditions most journalists, in particular in local media, are in.

Social dialogue structures in Serbia are very poor and do not exist at all in private media. We support the Serbian trade unions’ claims for real social dialogue and consultation with the trade unions, including our affiliate, SINOS.

Social dialogue needs to be strongly promoted. The European social model and Social Dialogue is at the heart of the European Union and indispensable for social peace and sustainable economic growth in Serbia.

We would highly appreciate if you will meet with representatives of SINOS and other unions to make sure that the revised labour law will apply to International Labour Organisation standards and EU aqcuis.

Likewise, the European and Serbian media community are waiting now for more than a decade for the implementation of the Media Reform and is asking for a more transparent procedure.

A recent report called "Media Integrity Matters" published by the South East European Media Observatory also points out that the main problems such as the unclear media ownership structures, a lack of editorial independence, the propagation of hate speech and the precarious  working environment for journalists still remain on the top of your reform agenda.

We thank you in advance for your kind consideration and attention.

With Kind Regards,

Mogens Blicher Bjerregård

President of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)