EFJ Concerned by Attacks on Trade Union Rights in Slovenian Media

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the biggest group of journalists in Europe, today raised its concerns over recent developments taking place in Slovenian media with the abusive sacking of a trade union leader.

"We consider that this measure will create a precedent which represents  a serious threat to legal certainty and that it will  endanger the constitutional right to trade union activities and journalists' duties arising from the professional autonomy," said EFJ President Arne König.

A union official for the Union of Slovenian Journalists and Editor-in-Chief of Obrazi magazine, Alma Maruška Sedlar, was dismissed on April 2012 by her employer, the  group Salomon Ltd, a part of the Krater Media Group. However, in Slovenia like in other European countries, work and statutory immunity for a union official is guaranteed by law. The employer found a way around it and dismissed her on the grounds of bullying and harassment (mobbing) of the superiors from the Salomon Ltd media group.

By dismissing Alma Sedlar, the employer has violated the law setting out that the union official cannot be dismissed without the prior consent of the union committees and criminal harassment being proved. However, yesterday a Court denied that the principle of immunity can be applied in Ms Sedlar's case due to rules of procedure. This means that from now on every union official in Slovenia will be exposed to threat of employment contract termination if an employer invents a story about the criminal offence, or merely plants false evidence hinting at criminal offence, which is undoubtedly a threat to the due process to which  to which  trade union officials are entitled. 

Journalism groups and media organisations have denounced the measure  as an attempt to prevent a trade union leader from encouraging  other staff to raise their voice against the employers and display their discontent with the situation in the company.

"We think that the situation in Slovenia has became extremely worrying for these rights: not only is a journalist and union official now facing the survival crisis, but an employer is trying to discredit her by all means and a Court put a general principle on hold for reasons of procedures," said Mr König. "This clearly is a breach of trade union principles and the beginning of a campaign of intimidation against all trade union representatives, in the media sector or elsewhere."

The EFJ defends strong and independent journalism, as well as trade union rights and decent working conditions. It supports its affiliates, the Union of Slovenian Journalists and the Slovenian Association of Journalists, who actively work for the respect of professional rights. Therefore the EFJ calls for the respect of trade union rights and for an immediate stop of the harassment against journalists' trade union leaders who did nothing else than their job.

The EFJ is the European group of the International Federation of Journalists
The EFJ represents over 260,000 journalists in 30 countries
 For more information contact the EFJ at +32 2 235.2200