EFJ Backs Italian Journalists in Strike Call Over Future of Collective Agreement

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) today gave its full backing to the trade union of Italian journalists, the Federazione Nationale della Stampa Italiana (FNSI ), which has announced a series of strikes in the coming weeks in the face of a blunt refusal by newspaper publishers to talk about renewal of the national collective agreement .

“The position of the employers is incomprehensible and shocking,” said the General Secretary of FNSI, Paolo Serventi-Longhi. “It does not take into account the willingness of trade unions to enter into a dialogue without any conditions.”

Unions have tried to get talks started for a year, since the last agreement expired in March 2005. In an attempt to kick-started negotiations, the Minister of Employment in Italy called on both sides to hold negotiations, but employers refused to meet if the talks were used to deal with issues covering freelance workers, flexibility and unemployment measures.

According to FIEG, the organisation of newspaper publishers, the press has to deal with major challenges such as technological convergence, falling commercial income and circulation. They say that “flexibility and salaries are essential elements of a new strategy for the sector.” They say they are ready to respect the previous agreement but that “conditions for a new collective agreement are not justified”. However, the FNSI responded that the “platform of proposals” put forward by the employers for the talks would have reduced salaries by 30% and led to a serious weakening of the previous collective agreement.

“The behaviour of the employers has little to do with the evolution of the sector”, said EFJ General Secretary Aidan White. “Just looking for cuts and more cuts in editorial costs will damage the fabric of journalism, lead to a decline in quality and weaken the capacity of newspapers to survive the current crisis. Trade unions are not insensitive to the challenging times in which we live, but they understand better than anyone that there cannot be any good journalism without good working conditions. Press employers in Europe who try to bypass collective agreements by offering short-term and precarious contracts to journalists are doing serious damage to the settled industrial landscape. In Italy, where there is a long tradition of social dialogue, it is vital that social partnership in the press continues. We fully support Italian journalists in their industrial action.”

Strikes are planned on 29 and 30 September in written press and online media, 5 and 6 October in daily newspapers, 6 and 7 October in all media and 24 and 25 October in broadcast media.

Messages of solidarity can be sent to: [email protected]
More information in Italian: www.fnsi.it

For further information contact the IFJ: +32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries