New sectoral agreement signed in print media sector

On 19 January 2007, the second ever sectoral collective agreement was signed in Lithuania. It regulates the conditions of work and remuneration of journalists working for national newspapers.

Up to 2007, only one sectoral collective agreement - in agriculture - had been signed in Lithuania and registered at the Ministry of Social Security and Labour (Lietuvos Respublikos Socialinės apsaugos ir darbo ministerija, SADM) according to valid legislation (LT0608019I). However, on 19 January 2007, a second sectoral collective agreement was signed, and was registered at SADM three days later. The latest agreement has been reached between the Lithuanian Journalist Union (Lietuvos žurnalistų sąjunga, LŽS) and the Association of National Regional and Urban Newspaper Publishers (Nacionalinė rajonų ir miestų laikraščių leidėjų asociacija, NRMLLA). It is the first agreement of such a nature between the representatives of journalists and publishers.

Content of agreement

The collective agreement stipulates that the employer and the journalists must agree in writing as to the use of authors’ creative work. Nevertheless, in the absence of agreement on this matter, the publisher shall not be released from liability to pay fair remuneration for authors’ creative work. Furthermore, the collective agreement states that the editorial office must have regulations governing the payment of royalties for authors’ creative work. Minimum and maximum author royalties must be fixed in the regulations, and the royalties must be paid in accordance with these regulations only.

Pay for holiday working

Remuneration for work on public holidays or during leave periods shall be paid according to the statutory procedure: work outside the normal schedule shall be compensated with another day off or, if so requested by the employee, remunerated at a double hourly rate per day without granting an additional day off. Scheduled work on public holidays shall be remunerated at a double hourly rate per day.

Further training

Moreover, the agreement stipulates certain provisions for training and qualification improvement for journalists. Journalists who are undertaking in-service refresher training shall be paid the average wage. Those who are studying a course relevant to their employment position and are paying for the education themselves shall be compensated half of the tuition fee, unless otherwise agreed by the employer and the employee.

The agreement also sets out the planning and organisation of refresher seminars, training and conferences to meet the needs of both parties. Each year, journalists, employers and their representative institutions should draw up preliminary refresher plans, and journalists should be encouraged to attend such seminars, training and conferences.

Aim of agreement

According to the signatory parties, ‘the agreement is signed in order to ensure cohesive cooperation between journalists and organisers of public information, to strengthen interim solidarity, to ensure and improve social guarantees, to improve professional qualifications and to strengthen the status of the journalist.’

According to the Chair of LŽS, Dainius Radzevičius, this agreement is expected to be just the beginning of the work:

This is the first robin, despite it being a little late. The main thing is that the first step has been made and the agreement has been signed. Both sides - we, as a trade union, and the employers - should seek to have professional journalists.

The Chair of NRMLLA, Ramutė Šimukauskaitė, also emphasises the necessity of the collective agreement:

The signing of this agreement may be considered to be the start of a dialogue. It is the start of an important, badly needed and very useful dialogue between the employers and the journalists.

In addition, the agreement provides for the formation of a supervisory committee comprising three persons appointed by the employer representatives and three persons appointed by the journalists’ representatives. The parties are free to amend the agreement at any time if a proposed change meets the approval of both sides. This collective agreement is binding on all employers who are members of NRMLLA and who approved the signing of the agreement, and on the journalists who are working for these newspapers.

Inga Blažienė, Institute of Labour and Social Research

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