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Has the time for establishing a Union for all media staff finally come?

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Low salaries, no legal (social, superannuation and health care) contributions paid by the employees, contributions paid for minimum registered salaries, annual holiday bonuses out of the question, extra working hours not being paid, weekend work obligatory and still unpaid. Work under extraordinary conditions employers usually treat with “simulative” sentences: “If you’re not willing to do this, there are plenty of unemployed who are”. On the other hand, fighting and combat through flooded areas, fire sites, assembly and parliamentary halls with majority parties usually extending constitutional sessions for hours making it look like a marathon, strikes lasting for several days, unsecured and unprotected journalists’ crews experience all of the above mentioned as regular and standard part of their job description, since these represent “the beauty of being a journalist”. Rubina Čengić, a female journalist also agrees about this.

CAUTION JOURNALISTS!

Has the time for establishing a Union for all media staff finally come? Alarm bells for some kind of organizing have already been ringing. However, we should take into consideration yet another eventual trap that those “producing goods” in media houses fell into. Namely, media workers and those calculating our salaries / wages (no matter how low they may be), legal department staff and associated departments, however whose rights are more respected in media houses – those that produce / manufacture (journalists, cameraman, editors, sound assistants etc) or for instance, a purchasing officer that may be in charge with office supplies?

Unfortunately, this purchasing officer may be the person “with recommendations” and pursuant to this, he or she may acquire famous “8+8+8”. Media worker, while choosing this kind of job, had never thought about this, but is she or he now discriminated against consequently? He or she definitely is in public sector, since he / she may not have weekends off and even if he / she do get paid, that amount is a misery, in terms of proper weekend payments elsewhere. She / he may not have right for additional days off for Labor Day holidays or New Year holidays. She / he may get additional days off for extreme working conditions, if their employers like them. Private sector is not even to taken into serious consideration regarding this issue. Media worker working in private sector literally rely on mercy by their employer, with very limited number of exceptions. My only comfort is that private sector entrepreneurs display equal treatment for both, journalists and office clerks, including purchasing officers.

Frankly speaking, Unions do exist in large media houses, including public broadcasters, while in small editing offices, journalists do not even take into serious consideration Union forming, am I am afraid that most media owners / entrepreneurs are unprepared to

accept the idea of having their own employees organized in such way. It would be interesting to hear someone from media houses with large number of employees, such as “Avaz”, N1 or Aljazeera, to have their say about Union organization establishing as that information would at least be broadcasted publically, stated Čengić.

Union is the only body that may do something regarding the improvement of legal and labor status of media staff, but the question is which Union may be capable of doing something like this, Siniša Vukelić, a local journalist wanders and also adds that Union must be respectable, massive and be led and managed by strong leaders and managers., that may fight and acquire rights for journalists accordingly. Present Union officials, Vukelić reckons, seem weak since, for instance, there are two Unions in public service broadcasters with a single purpose – so the Unions could get closer to Management Board officials. This is why the Unions have no strength necessary.

The fact is that media ownership went through certain changes. Private entrepreneurs, in quite words, are not benevolent about Union forming. There is however, bright side in Republic of Srpska, regarding this issue; there is first Union in private media sector. “Press”’, local daily paper did come up with particular results. Unions are formed and established when the situation is quiet calm and reliable in order to react, reply and respond should its action become necessary when things go wrong, concluded Vukelić.

Serbia and Croatia with Journalists’ Unions; Montengero with Media Union

The situation is not much better in neighboring countries either, however, from our point of view, it seems that they show more dignity in fight for their rights and are consequently more respected and their combat more appreciated generally speaking. I refuse to accept the fact that our colleagues being “temporarily engaged” in BiH are more valued than people that had gained their experience, however, regarding this issue, a female bank officer managed to “calm me down” this summer. If she were to be believed, she claimed that most of her clients were journalists. “You should see the wages of those coming from Serbia and Croatia?”

I went out being ashamed to think about my own salary and thinking about salaries that most of my colleagues receive and who attempt to create something out of impossible. Therefore, good luck to all of us as luck may be our only savior!

Bulletin “E-journalist“/Fairpress

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