Today the European Federation of Journalists called on media unions throughout Europe to support Italian journalists who have called a series of strikes in print and broadcasting sectors after talks with employers on a new collective agreement floundered, principally on the issue of the rights of freelance or independent workers.
The European Federation of Journalists affiliate the FNSI, which represents both newsroom staff in print and broadcasting sectors, ordered the stoppages when the employers’ association FIEG refused to continue negotiations over a new agreement across the media sector.
“This is a watershed moment for the defence of employment rights in media,” said EFJ Chair Arne König. “All over Europe, we see that the freelance status is increasingly used by employers to cut on social rights and labour standards. Italian journalists taking up the challenge should get the full support of colleagues across the region.”
The FNSI has announced that :
- Print media journalists will strike tomorrow and the next day, preventing publication of dailies on 1 and 2 October
- Journalists of the press agencies and online information services will also strike over the same period and will be joined by freelances, external editors and correspondents
- In the broadcasting sector, journalists will strike on 7 and 8 October. Only short news flashes will be broadcast, including references to the on-going industrial action.
A meeting between the journalists’ union and the employers association was held on 22 September when talks broke down over the issue of freelance or autonomous workers in the sector. The union opposed the employers’ action in taking off the table an earlier proposal on the issue. Union concerns stem from the worrying trend within the sector where regular employment contracts have dramatically declined in recent years.
“Journalists who have precarious employment conditions, and whose social rights are ignored cannot be expected to provide quality journalism,” said König. ‘Today we have too many ‘forced freelances’ who need to be included in collective bargaining in order to have a minimum level of social protection”.
The confrontation has become inevitable following the refusal by employers to adapt the Italian law on short-term contracts (Legge 30) to the media sector, where the consequences of the labour market deregulation are devastating say the unions.
According to the FNSI, the conflict might be “difficult and certainly not brief”. “We know that these strikes may harm to the industry and will deprive citizen from information”, said Paolo Serventi-Longhi, the General Secretary of the FNSI, “but we have to defend our professional rights and social conditions. The future of the profession and the right of the public to have accurate and quality information depends on this”.
For support and information:
Federazione Nazionale della Stampa Italiana
Tel: +39 06 6833879 Fax: +39 06 6871444
Further information: + 32 2 235 22 00
The EFJ represents over 250,000 journalists in more than 40 countries