On Wednesday, January 30, the Trade Union of Macedonian Journalists and Media Workers (SSNM) was joined by the Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM) and the Council of Media Ethics of Macedonia (SEMM) at the signing of a new charter for good working conditions and a model for fair working contracts for workers in digital media.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomed it as a "massive step" towards improving the labour rights and conditions of the country's digital media workers.
This campaign for fair working conditions for digital media journalists formed part of the IFJ's drive to unionise digital media workers, funded by Swedish solidarity organisation UniontoUnion.
Both the charter and the draft for fair working contracts are a part of the introduction of a self-regulation process for digital news media in North Macedonia. The charter will commit online media to respect the Code of Journalists and publish decisions by the Council of Media Ethics. North Macedonian citizens are able to report media who breach the ethical codes on a special web platform.
“When working on the draft fair agreements for journalists we tried to protect the rights of the journalists and media workers as much as possible. We hope that with this we will raise awareness that without social and economic stability, and proper working conditions, professional and objective journalism cannot be practised. Only journalists with integrity can be proper watchdogs of the public interest”, said Darko Duridanski, project coordinator of SSNM.
The new charter is based on the EFJ charter on journalists working conditions, which sets out key criteria for creating fair labour conditions for journalists and the values private or public authorities should apply when dealing with journalists.
IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger said: “This is a massive step forward for digital media workers in North Macedonia by making fair working conditions a key part of a new self-regulation process. It is an excellent sign for the future of journalistic integrity in the country. We welcome this step and encourage online media to sign the charter for the good of journalists and the public good and urge digital media journalists to join the union, get organised and secure improved working conditions”.
Ensuring healthy, safe and fair working conditions for digital news journalists has been a central part of the IFJ's and affiliates' work in recent years. A recent campaign highlighted the successes of unions in winning higher pay and better contracts for digital media workers. Last year, with support of the European Union, the IFJ organized a digital and trade-union workshop in Istanbul and Bursa.