The Funke publishing house in Essen announced what some had long feared: On 31 December 2021 the printing press at the newspaper printing plant in Erfurt will go out. Thuringia will be the first federal state without a newspaper printing plant. The company had announced plans to close the printing center on “strategic grounds”. However, the newspaper giant, the second-largest media group in Germany with almost one million newspaper subscriptions has not given any economic reason to justify the closure, according to the union and workers.
In recent years, the Funke Group has repeatedly implemented drastic austerity programmes in its media. The Thuringian newspapers were also merged and now have almost identical content. They get their national content from the central editorial office in Berlin. From there it is only a small step until soon all Thuringian newspapers will be designed in Berlin or Essen, the headquarters of Funke Mediengruppe, fear journalists in Thuringia.
Uni-Europa's affiliate Print and paper (Druck und Papier) in ver.di, has presented several initiatives to the company to avoid the closure of the printing plant, save 270 jobs that are essential for the local economy and ensure the viability of local newspapers. The group has refused all of them.
Funke Mediengruppe workers, ver.di and Uni-Global union launched a campaign in support of the preservation of the printing plant and stressing the importance of local media in communities and the region's economy. The campaign initiated by ver.di print and paper has the full support of EFJ/IFJ affiliate dju in ver.di.
“Local press is essential. When people have access to meaningful local news that reflects their lived realities, they feel a greater sense of involvement and agency”, the campaign reads.
The IFJ supports the campaign and call on their affiliates to join, show solidarity with local media workers in Germany and push for a sustainable model for local media all over the world.
IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “The unilateral closure of the Funke media group plant in Erfurt would have a serious impact on the sustainability and future of local media. We call on the German authorities to intervene and find a solution to avoid a decision that would put not only jobs but also people’s right to receive quality information and local cohesion at risk”.