Journalists' union calls nationwide strike

The Union of Slovenian Journalists (SNS) has called a national strike by its members, beginning on 3 October 2004, the day of Slovenia's general election. The union's main demand is immediate negotiations on the renewal of the national collective agreement for journalists.

The Union of Slovenian Journalists (Sindikat novinarjev Slovenije, SNS), a national trade union founded in 1990 and a member of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), has announced a general strike of all journalists to begin on 3 October 2004, the date when general elections are being held in Slovenia. According to SNS, the strike will end when its demands are met by employers.

SNS's main demand is that negotiations on the renewal of the national collective agreement for journalists should begin as quickly as possible. This agreement was first concluded in December 1991. In 1994, the parties to the accord set a new basic wage rate that has been unchanged since. The most recent negotiations over the agreement began in 1995, but no deal was reached. After several unsuccessful rounds of negotiations, the Association for Press and Media (Združenje za tisk in medije, ZTM) - the most important organisation representing the interests of journalists' employers and part of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce of Slovenia (Gospodarska zbornica Slovenije, GZS) - and the Economic Interest Association of Local and Regional Radio Stations (Gospodarsko interesno združenje lokalnih in regionalnih radijskih postaj, GIZ) denounced the national collective agreement for journalists in writing.

On 9 June 2004, SNS sent to the employers a proposed draft of a renewed collective agreement and demanded negotiations. SNS decided to announce a strike when the employers replied twice that they are no longer signatories of the collective agreement and are therefore not prepared to negotiate on it. In addition, SNS has demanded the adjustment of the pay rates set in the national agreement and called on the employers take back what it sees as the unlawful denunciation of the accord. SNS set a deadline of 19.00 on 1 October 2004 for the employers to indicate whether they were prepared to negotiate on the national collective agreement for journalists. Just before the deadline expired, SNS sent to the employers a compromise proposal including only one demand (the rest were taken back) and asked the employers whether they were prepared to negotiate on changes and supplements to the national agreement. After not receiving a satisfactory answer, SNS took a final decision to call a strike.

Solidarity with SNS has been expressed by IFJ, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the National Federation of the Italian Press (Federazione Nazionale della Stampa Italiana, FNSI) and other journalists’ unions from abroad. Arne König, the chair of EFJ, stated: 'Good journalism depends on maintaining decent standards in the workplace, but some of Slovenia’s media seem determined to reduce working conditions. Our colleagues are right to reject such an approach.' EFJ has called for talks between SNS and the employers to continue, thus making it possible to avoid the strike. Mr König added: 'We can only hope that this confrontation can be avoided. It would be tragic if journalists were forced to take action on one of the country’s prime news days because of the intransigence of some media employers.' In his letter of support, Franco Siddi, the president of FNSI, expressed his union's solidarity with and support of the Slovenian journalists in the battle for the renewal of their national collective agreement. He said that this is a 'crucial moment for the affirmation of journalists in Europe, the Europe which would thus be truly democratic'.

All the Slovenian trade union confederations and practically all the other independent unions have expressed solidarity with SNS.

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