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Journalists join protests against European austerity

14 November 2012

Journalists from Britain and Ireland have joined with European colleagues to support a European Day of Action against Austerity on Wednesday 14 November.

NUJ branches already marched against austerity economic measures last month in London, Glasgow and Belfast. On Wednesday 14 November there are 40 unions involved in more than 23 countries.

In London, the TUC will hand in a letter of protest at the European Commission in Smith Square London SW1 against the savage austerity measures being imposed on European workers and at 5pm there will be a march from the commission to nearby Marsham Street for a rally in Upper Hall, Emmanuel Centre.

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said:

"The consequences of the austerity measures being imposed across Europe in the wake of the bankers’ crisis are particularly severe for low-paid workers, including many journalists. By speaking out together with our colleagues in other unions and other countries, we can make the call for fairness and compassion heard."

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) will join with trade unionists across the continent in support of a day of action for jobs and solidarity.

In Portugal, public broadcasting is due to be privatised, threatening hundreds of jobs as well as media pluralism in the country. The press agency Lusa, majority public-owned, is threatened with a 30.9% cut in funding  slashing its ability to maintain its public service and working conditions. In the private sector, 48 workers are threatened with collective dismissal in the newspaper Público, a year after having accepted a significant pay cut. Meanwhile the government is preparing the most brutal tax increases in the history of the country and want to cut, next year, another four billion euro in the social functions of the state.

In Greece, journalists, like other workers, have seen their salary cut by 35% and hundreds of them have simply lost their jobs, unemployment for 2012 is expected to exceed 30%; collective agreements were unilaterally terminated under pressure from the "Troika" and replaced by more flexible laws allowing temporary, individual contracts.

In Spain, one third of the staff of El Pais are threatened with redundancy.

Elsewhere in Europe, the Schibstedt group has announced plans to cut a quarter of journalists in their media organisations in Norway, the Sud-Ouest Group in France is planning to cut 20% of jobs and dozens of magazines are closing down across the continent.

Major public broadcasters like the BBC, France Télévisions and RTVE are "cutting costs" and downsizing.

All across Europe, thousands of journalists have lost their jobs or are forced to continue working under precarious conditions, sometimes for the same employer as before but with less job security.

To mark the ETUC day of action, the EFJ has launched a report on ‘Equal Rights for Journalists', providing examples of campaigns and actions undertaken by journalists' unions in Europe to defend jobs, terms and conditions and the right to a collective voice. As the impact of austerity policies are felt across Europe, the document provides an opportunity for unions to share case studies and learn from the experiences of sister unions.

As the ETUC and its affiliates step up their campaign against austerity measures, the EFJ reiterates its concerns about the undermining of public service broadcasting and the loss of jobs in public and private media.

The EFJ stands in solidarity with trade union colleagues campaigning for jobs and decent work and expresses its concerns that, at a time of major national and European debate, cuts within the media threaten to deprive people of access to a variety of sources of reliable and independent news and information.

The ETUC called for a European Day of Action and Solidarity in favour of employment and against austerity. "Cuts to salaries and social protection are attacking the European social model, worsening imbalances and fostering injustice" says the ETUC.

The day of action includes strikes, demonstrations, rallies and other activities designed to raise awareness of the ETUC campaign. For an overview of the national actions to be held as part of the day of action, see the Google map.

In Brussels, a rally in front of the headquarters of the European Commission will take place from midday.

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has pledged its full support to the European trade union movement’s day of action. 

"Unions from around the world were shocked at the briefings from our European affiliates given at the ITUC General Council meeting this month in Jordan. The Council decided to give full backing to the 14 November actions, recognising that attacks on workers’ rights and the austerity business model in Europe threaten prosperity and social cohesion everywhere," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.
“Youth unemployment is one of the most damaging consequences of the Troika’s obsession with the discredited economics of austerity. More than half of young people in Greece and Spain are without work, more than a third in Italy and Portugal, and 27% in Cyprus. This is simply intolerable, and even worse, the architects of austerity have no idea and no plan of how to rebuild economic growth – they are simply focused on keeping financial markets happy without regard to the social and economic costs,” said Burrow.

Information about the day of action is available on the TUC website

Sign the ITUC solidarity pledge

Tags: solidarity, EFJ, ETUC, TUC, ITUC, Europe