Bosnia and Herzegovina: BHRT public service media workers protest against organisation's "systematic destruction".

Workers of public service broadcaster BHRT in Bosnia and Herzegovina, staged a protest on 28 March against the organisation's "systematic destruction" after it was revealed they cannot pay the salaries of over 870 workers due to a debt with the country's tax administration. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) stands in solidarity with BHRT workers and calls on the authorities to guarantee the payment of their salaries and the sustainability of the public media.

BHRT's bank accounts are blocked due to a massive debt of €32 million to the BiH Tax Administration, which workers claim is the result of mismanagement by the authorities and a "systematic destruction" of the public service media.

The independent trade union of BHRT workers organised the protest together with the employees who will not receive their salaries this month. They claimed that "parliamentarians should stop playing with the lives of more than 800 families" and reminded them that a stable public service media is one of the 14 priorities set for BiH by the European Union as a condition for accession negotiations.

"The authorities are doing nothing to solve it and the BiH public service is on the verge of closure," said Damir Smital, president of the Independent Trade Union of BHRT Workers  

Public media workers' demands include the urgent unblocking of BHRT accounts, the payment of the outstanding salaries and the amendment of the Law on the public service broadcasters.

"First, the unblocking -of the bank accounts- must be ensured so that workers can receive salaries, because they earned them, and the citizens paid the RTV fee. The second step must be to resolve the debt to BHRT and the violation of the law on the public broadcasting system by RTRS. Since 2017, RTRS has been violating the law without an adequate reaction from the authorities", said Borka Rudić, General Secretary of IFJ affiliate Journalists’ Association of Bosnia-Herzegovina (BHN).

IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: "We stand in solidarity with BHRT workers, who are suffering the consequences of a mismanagement of the public media. We urge the BiH authorities to take urgent action and resolve immediately the situation and work to achieve stable funding of BHRT. Shutting down a public service media should never be an option. "

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

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