New collective agreement signed for journalists

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In April 2002, following two months of tension, a series of strikes and difficult negotiations, the Athens Daily Newspaper Journalists' Union (ESIEA) and the Association of Athens Daily Newspaper Owners (EIIEA) concluded a new collective agreement for journalists. The one-year agreement provides for pay increases, a five-day normal working week and protection against collective redundancies.

On 10 April 2002, in a climate of tension generated by one 48-hour and two 24-hour strikes in February and March 2002 (GR0203101F) and the difficult negotiations between the two sides, the the Athens Daily Newspaper Journalists' Union (ESIEA) and the Association of Athens Daily Newspaper Owners (EIIEA) finally concluded a new collective agreement for journalists. The agreement, which applies retroactively from 1 January 2002 to 31 December 2002, sets the pay and terms and conditions of employment for the journalists belonging to ESIEA who are employed by member daily newspapers of EIIEA. Although it differs significantly from ESIEA's initial demands and falls short of the 'good practice' collective agreement signed on 4 March 2002 between ESIEA and the ALTER television channel (GR0203101F), the new agreement is considered by the union to be satisfactory in present conditions.

The pay part of the agreement increases monthly salaries of up to EUR 2,070 as of December 2001 by 6%. This increase affects salaries exclusive of pay for overtime, Sundays, days off or night work (wherever night work is paid separately). Salaries higher than EUR 2,070 are increased by EUR 124.20 per month; however, people hired after 1 August 2001 are not entitled to the increases.

The most important non-pay provisions of the agreement relate to the five-day week and protection from collective redundancies. The new accord provides for a five-day working week for the journalist members of the ESIEA. If journalists work a sixth day, they are entitled to an extra day's pay, paid at a higher rate to be determined following negotiations between the two sides. Otherwise they will take one day of rest on the next working day, unless another day has been agreed upon. In the negotiations to set the enhanced pay rate for work on the sixth day, which must be concluded by 30 May 2002, the particular circumstances of newspapers' morning and evening editions are to be taken into consideration. When concluded, the agreement on the enhanced pay rate will take effect retroactively from 1 January 2002.

With regard to collective redundancies, the employers' side has undertaken to refrain from collective dismissals of journalists and to observe the legislation governing labour relations. In addition, article 8 of the 2001 collective agreement will remains in force. This provides that no change in ownership of a newspaper will have an effect on journalists' labour relations, and their employment relationship will not be considered to have been interrupted.

Finally, in the framework of the dialogue between them, the two sides have undertaken to agree upon and sign a joint text setting out 'basic normative principles' to govern the practice of journalism. Following mutual agreement, these principles will be binding on both sides.

In a statement released on 2 April 2002, EIIEA said that a special joint committee would examine the issues of intellectual property and the supply of labour for the magazine sections of newspapers.

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