Picture Nenad Rebersak
Scores of Journalists at the Vecernji list in Croatia are on strike since 23rd March. They came out after months of frustrating attempts at negotiating the renewal of their collective agreement.
In a remarkable show of solidarity hundreds of journalists rallied in support of their colleagues and marched onto the Vecernji newspaper headquarters, led by the Trade Union of Croatian Journalists and the Croatian Journalists’ Association – the first protest rally of journalists in the country. Hundred others held solidarity strikes throughout Croatia.
The stakes are high and concern all journalists since the collective agreement for the journalists and employees of Vecernji list was the first collective agreement for journalist signed in the Republic of Croatia. Attempts at conciliation did not come to anything but, worse still, management went on the offensive in a bid to attack current working conditions by cancelling a 0.5 % wage increase per year of service, the Christmas bonus, a procedure for wage adjustment to inflation rate, etc.
Striking journalists rightly feel that the refusal of management to sign a new agreement is a major step back, something the Austria-based Styria company, which owns the newspaper, would not dare impose at the other newspapers it owns in Austria.
Since Styria bought the Vecernji list in 2001, it has siphoned huge profits by breaking the company into 17 outlets and selling its property, but still uses the difficult economic climate to justify its attempt at reducing the labour rights of its employees in Croatia.
Journalists at the Vecernji list and their union are determined to defend their collective agreement -- the first signed in a media company in Croatia. They are supported by both the IFJ and EFJ which called all their affiliates worldwide to show solidarity by protesting to Klaus Schweighofer of the Styria management at firstname.lastname@example.org.