Sweden: Connection Broken Between Journalists' Union and Publishers

The Swedish Newspaper Publishers´ Association in a letter formally have declared they are breaking all connections and cooperation with the Swedish Union of Journalists. This comes after a long dispute concerning authors rights. The Publishers will continue to have negotiations for a collective agreement with the Union, Those negotiations are a must according to Swedish law. But all others sorts of connections will be cut, the Publishers say.

The Publishers have in their long term strategy a goal to take over the rights from the employees and the freelances. So far this strategy has not been successful.

In the last collective agreement from 2004 between the Publishers and the Journalist Union, governmental arbitrators introduced an arbitrary model into the collective agreement. This model should cover only a specific part of the agreement, concerning local negotiations on authors´ rights.

The Publishers have tried to make the model valid also for other authors´ rights issues in the agreement. And the arbitrators have tried to achieve local agreements, but beyond their mandate, given in the collective agreement.

To prevent the arbitrators to go beyond their mandate, the Journalists Union has made it clear that they would be personally legally responsible for any damage suffered by the Union or it´s members.

This act led the Publishers to break all connections with the Journalists Union.

"This is in real life no news to us", says Agneta Lindblom Hulthén, President of the Swedish Union of Journalists. "The Publishers already for a long time now has been doing exactly this, isolating themselves from all form of cooperation and talks with us. We of course find it very sad – the commercial and legal attacks on journalism are now more severe than ever and journalists and publishers should have a common interest in defending and developing independent journalism".