The European Federation of Journalists, the regional group of the International Federation of Journalists, today accused the owners of Metro, a free newspaper in Zurich, of a "violation of fundamental rights" after a decision to close the paper with the loss of 58 jobs and with no consultation with the workforce.
The EFJ has called on trade unions of journalists and media staff covering the European-wide network of Metro, a free daily newspaper service operating in major cities, to support Swiss colleagues, who are fighting the closure. "It is a violation of fundamental rights to have this action taken with no proper consultation with the people affected," said Gustl Glattfelder, EFJ Chairman.
Metro Zurich announced on February 13 that it ceased publication of its edition and would immediately dismiss its 58 staff. There was no warning or even any attempt to negotiate with the staff.
A few months ago, the Executive Committee of the IFJ, meeting in Stockholm, the original base of Metro International, gave its unanimous support to a call for European-wide discussions with the company to improve social and professional standards.
"The company is cutting its editorial operations around Europe without any respect for the rights of staff," said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ and the EFJ, "if they succeed it is inevitable that professional standards and working conditions will suffer." The IFJ has already taken up the case of the defence of Metro staff in the Netherlands where earlier cuts were made.
"The management actions in Switzerland are scandalous," said Gustl Glattfelder, "the lack of information to staff and lack of consideration over how these decisions impact on the lives of media workers is intolerable."
The EFJ called on Metro to negotiate acceptable redundancy schemes with the social partners in Switzerland and also called for a wider dialogue with the company. "Metro are establishing an innovative network, but this should reflect high standards of social and professional conditions throughout its international operations," said the EFJ. "We urge the company to commit itself to higher quality and to good relations with its editorial staff by establishing effective social dialogue at both local and international level."