European Journalists Salute Swedish Victory in National Battle On Authors' Rights

The International Federation of Journalists and its regional group, the European Federation of Journalists, representing more than 200.000 journalists in 35 countries in Europe, today welcomed a ground-breaking deal signed between journalists and publishers in Sweden which signals a victory in the European-wide campaign to defend the authors' rights.

"Swedish journalists have shown commitment and determination to protect authors' rights at a time when publishers are attempting to sweep away traditional standards," said Aidan White, European Federation of Journalists' General Secretary. "It is a landmark victory and points the way for journalists' groups throughout the European Union."

The negotiations had been going on since April and the journalists' major fear was over publishers' demands for journalists to waive their authors' rights to secure a new national agreement. However, union members responded with an escalating programme of industrial action that began last week. The EFJ and journalists' unions around Europe supported plans by Swedish members, both staff and freelance, in the major photo agencies and one major text agency to go on strike on December 7. The Swedish Union of Journalists had further announced a strike covering 10 newspapers starting December 17 and on December 26 for another 7 papers.

The EFJ says that had the publishers succeeded it would have undermined and eliminated long-standing provisions giving journalists the right to exercise moral and economic jurisdiction over the exploitation of their work, no matter the mode of dissemination.

"Publishers all over Europe must accept that these basic rights cannot be waived," said Aidan White "and we hope that the solidarity of the Swedish colleagues will send a message to other journalists' unions that unity and militancy is the key to preserving fundamental rights."

The new three-year Swedish agreement will maintain the authors' rights paragraphs and will guarantee journalists a wage increase of about 8,7 percent.