World Journalists Call on German Publishers to Act As Angry News Staff Begin Strikes

The International Federation of Journalists and its regional group the European Federation of Journalists today called on the German Association of Newspaper Publishers (BDZV) to return immediately to the negotiation table, after the unions voiced their final position to strike in protest of the BDZV’s demands.

Yesterday, the first strikes began with over 70 newsrooms representing over 2000 employees walking out following the call of the Deutscher Journalisten Verband DJV and the Deutscher Journalisten Union in ver.di. On January 28, following a ballot issued by the unions, close to 95 percent of their journalistic members voted to support a nationwide strike. Employers have been trying to increase working hours from 36.5 to 40 hours per week, to reduce holidays by 5 days and to lower holiday pay. In all ten “Bundesländer” in which the vote took place, a strong majority supported the need to take concrete industrial action.

“The rights of our colleagues in Germany must be upheld,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “If this time the owners fail to cooperate fairly, the results will echo across the continent”.

The BDZV issued a list of demands in the framework of collective bargaining for a new agreement in the newspaper sector to the German journalists’ unions. Journalists have regarded this move as a general attack on the quality of journalism and the profession as a whole. While smaller strikes have already taken place in the interim period, this new pre-emptive action stands as the first countrywide walkout in fourteen years.

On 13 January, representatives from the EFJ protested outside the Brussels offices of the European Newspaper Publishers Association calling upon the ENPA to oppose the hard line being taken by German publishers.

“The proposed wage cuts and time increases will destroy a balance of protection that has existed for years in Germany,” said White. “The publishers must recognize that the ball is firmly in their court in order to prevent the newspaper industry plummeting into an all-out confrontation”.

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