European Journalists Back German Strikes Over Threat to Media Quality and Work Standards

The International Federation of Journalists and its regional group, the European Federation of Journalists, today backed their German affiliates the Deutscher Journalisten Verband DJV and the Deutscher Journalisten Union in ver.di, as talks began on the fourth round of collective bargaining for a new agreement in the newspaper sector in Berlin.

The German Association of Newspaper Publishers (BDZV) has issued a list of demands to the German journalists’ unions, a move that is regarded by journalists as a general attack on the quality of journalism and the profession as a whole. Employers are trying to increase working hours from 36.5 to 40 hours per week, to reduce holidays by 5 days and to lower holiday pay.

“The unions have offered to be flexible and accept exceptions to the national agreements in companies in hard times and for a defined period,” said Aidan White, IFJ and EFJ General Secretary, “But they are rightly resisting any erosion of social standards achieved in recent years. They know that if they give way further it will damage a healthy independent press,”

On Thursday and Friday last week almost 2,000 journalists joined strikes called by the two German unions. The stoppages were in support of quality newspapers and a stronger commitment to journalism in future. Further strikes were in progress today.

“These recent protests by the journalistic community in Germany is the strongest strike movement in the newspaper sector during the last ten years,” said White. “It demonstrates a determination to defend decent standards at work and quality in media.”

The IFJ and the EFJ member organisations throughout Europe and around the world are being asked to back the German unions and their demands for fair social working conditions in a new collective agreement.

“Basic working conditions are the key to quality media. That is a lesson well understood in Germany and all around the world,” said White. The EFJ’s European membership, with over 200,000 journalists, will back the German unions says White. “This is a crucial struggle in which all European unions have a stake.”

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