European Journalists Condemn Poland Over "Political Pressure and Robber Barons" in Media

The European Federation of Journalists today accused Poland over media conditions in which "corporate robber barons and political interests" are putting intolerable pressure on media freedom and rights of media staff.

The EFJ, Europe's largest journalists' group, has condemned press owners in Poland who refuse to pay basic salaries to journalists. Desperate journalists at the daily newspaper Zycie went on strike because they has not been paid for several months or received only a fraction of their income and a few days later the owners decided the close the newspaper.

"It is an unbelievable state of affairs in a country that is on the verge of admission to the European Union," said Gustl Glattfelder, Chair of the EFJ, "This is wild west behaviour suitable for bandit country, but not for a modern democracy in Europe." The EFJ, which supported the striking journalists, is urging the employers to compensate all of the workers and to pay them their due salaries. About 100 journalists are affected and they are owed about 150.000 Euro.

He raised again concerns over "political manipulation," discrimination over public advertising and an attack by the government on the independent newspaper Rzeczpospolita. "It is self-evident that unacceptable political pressure is being made to bring the editorial content of the paper under the influence of the ruling political majority," said Gustl Glattfelder. "Such manipulation is unacceptable in any country, but is particularly incomprehensible in a country that aims to adopt European norms of press freedom."

The general media situation in Poland, where there are still fears over the future of public broadcasting, is worrying says the EFJ. "It seems that there is no coherent media policy, only the rule of corporate robber barons and political interests," said Gustl Glattfelder. He said most media employers refuse to negotiate agreements for their staff and European norms regarding the right to bargain, the right to decent pay and working conditions are violated. "The refusal to pay salaries violates European standards and endangers press freedom in Poland," said Glattfelder. "Poland is the most promising media market of all applicant countries and should respect minimum standards."

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) is a regional organisation of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). The EFJ represents about 200.000 members in 29 countries.