Journalists' and printworker unions from across Europe met in Hungary at the weekend in a ground-breaking event to discuss co-operation among the transnational workforce of the German media group Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ), Europe's biggest regional newspaper employer.
The European Federation of Journalists welcomed the meeting between media workers leaders WAZ subsidiaries in Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Serbia and Montenegro, Macedonia and Croatia.
The meeting, entitled WAZ: Launching Information and Consultation Structures, saw 35 trade unionists and works council representatives in membership of UNI Europa Graphical and the EFJ exchange information about their working conditions, trade union structures and future perspectives including plans to set up a European Works Council.
The German media giant WAZ has a European empire of more than 150 newspapers. As the biggest regional newspaper group, its turnover abroad is about 40%, especially in Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria and Croatia.
Discussion centered on technological developments, falling quality of journalism, and media concentration and the meeting adopted an action plan, which includes the creation of a communications network as a step towards the ultimate objective of setting up a European Works Council.
Participants plan a follow-up seminar in Essen, where the company has its headquarters, and this time management will be invited to take part.
“This meeting was a ground-breaking step in the establishment of pan-European structures for social dialogue,” said Renate Schroeder, Director of the EFJ. “We hope management will support the process. European Works Councils open the door to efficient, transparent management as well as providing the workforce with a voice in the functioning of their company.”
See also : Strategy Paper on International Activities of the WAZ Company (in German)
The meeting was supported by the European Commission and the Friedrich-Ebert Foundation.