The European Federation of Journalists today denounced the “scandalous situation” facing journalists in Switzerland, who have been working for over a year without collective agreement as employers have blocked negotiations.
“The refusal by publishers to renew the national collective agreement is an example of the arrogance and foolhardy contempt for social dialogue that undermines modern journalism,” said EFJ Chair Arne König. “Their unwillingness to talk saps newsroom morale and weakens the industry. Enough is enough, it’s time to get back to the negotiating table and settle this dispute.”
The EFJ says that journalists in Switzerland are ready to negotiate and have been so for months, but have only been held up by the stubbornness of employers. Because there is no regulatory framework in the form of a national collective agreement (GAV=Gesamtarbeitsvertrag) which expired in August 2004, the unions are having to make local arrangements to meet the needs of journalists and technical editorial staff covered by the agreement.
Today the Swiss journalists’ unions Comedia and Impressum, both of them affiliated to the EFJ, are organising a day of action in Zürich. The EFJ, which is the largest journalists’ group in Europe with more than 200,000 members across the region, is giving them support.
In a joint statement the unions said: “The situation is becoming serious. We understand social dialogue in a different way from the employers. We like to sit at the negotiation table with publishers; we want to talk. We are open, flexible and ready for a dialogue. However, the employers are stubborn and they want to play a waiting game. But we are running out of time and we are not going to accept this anymore”.
The unions are organising a day of action in the Pressecafé at the Bahnhof Zürich-Stadelhofen, with a café, entertainment, interviews, an information blitz and with a surprise in store for journalists and people who will be present.
“Journalists have little choice but to take action in such a difficult situation”, said König. “Switzerland has a long tradition of social dialogue and minimum wages and fees have been part of collective agreements since 1918, and we cannot understand why this should be threatened now. We encourage our Swiss colleagues to take action”.
The EFJ has called on its member organisations to send their messages of solidarity to:
comedia - die Mediengewerkschaft
Fax 031 390 66 91, e-mail : email@example.com
impressum - die Schweizer Journalistinnen
Fax 026 347 15 09, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Swiss unions created an online game for their day of action: see www.GAVgame.ch
Further information: + 32 2 235 22 15
The EFJ represents over 250,000 journalists in more than 40 countries