From day to day, from year to year, journalists’ fight for public interest never ended or at least it had never should have ended. In an environment that we are surrounded with, there have been lots of different people. Some of them who managed to joined governing parties made some benefit out of this, while on the other hand, those who decided to remain non-allied, apparently due to their personal beliefs of operating independently in media and remaining objective have been going through difficult times and hence we could say they have been burdening within slavery system they are engaged with.
Their work is marked with violation of fundamental human rights including regular payments and the amount of wages / salaries they receive, pension, retirement and health care fund contributions, duration of holidays, overtime payment and working on holidays, stimulation payments and bonuses, hot meal money, transportation costs etc. and other associated reimbursements for workers. Eternal fight with editors – in – chief that in most cases have no journalism education at all additional problem is also.
Still, unsatisfied journalists and other media staff grumble through editing offices and offices seek anyone to blame and refuse to admit that they are partially responsible for the sate they are in. However, no Law or sub – legal act strictly defines who is entitled to become a journalist and this enables any employer with countless number during the employment.
If we take this aspect into consideration that the situation is rather alarming. Instead of fighting for their legal rights, we encounter groups of people, so called journalists that work overtime in order to get full time jobs in their own branch or employees that, according to their educational level, are considered not – qualified for certain vacant job positions, so why would they resent about anything when they consider those job positions as their personal career success. In all this mess, those with degrees in journalism consider local media mere passing point on their careers. They too murmur and but their superiors do not seem to notice their opposing and at the end, they almost always find themselves in a standard lifetime grove based on “something is better than nothing” philosophy.
Anyway, I discovered that this problem concerns me as well. After being informed by my employer that there would be no money but the work would have to be done, we found out that “we employees would soon be registered in an Unemployment Department if we want to”, I decided to register with the Unemployment Department, thus being able to work on part time basis on some journalists’ projects. My agony began with the Unemployment Department check in. I was engaged for eight years and eight months in local private TV house as journalist, reporter, TV host, IP editor and I discovered that my employer paid contributions for my retirement, pension and health care fund only for three (3) months. My former company showed absolutely no interest to pay for all of the above mentioned contributions in order to be entitled to receive the unemployment social security funds.
I was left with no choice but to sue my former company and demand my labor rights that had, speaking of the subject, been violated almost the entire time while being engaged with this local TV house. BAM 370.00 of monthly earnings, with no money for hot daily meals, no money for transportation costs, holiday money, overtime, weekend time, holiday time, no holiday leave allowed with working time starting at 8:30 a.m. until “you’re done with everything” (which meant till 7 p.m. most of the time) and often even longer than this period, field work on distant territories and follow- ing the work of Municipal Council meeting sessions, Cantonal Assembly meeting sessions with no daily allowances (per diem) either, finding my own style and struggling with make- up prior to TV show commencement etc.
Solution: Engage lawyer and press legal charges
Small community, private local media house, entrepreneur and leading people with exceptional social, political and particularly religious influence, supported by the team of layers engaged specially for my case on one hand and I, as common journalist, along with a single lawyer and hope that justice will prevail, on the other hand.
Two years of fear followed, including regrets I often sensed, listening of different stories, I was often ignored by former friends, people I used to know and people that have been in any way associated with any kind of business with this TV house. Labor dispute
Pressured buy my lawyer, the amounts have been paid, pursuant to the decision by the Municipal Court in Kakanj, bearing in mind that payments for contributions (retirement, pension and health care service funds) were executed without specific details of the receiver, also not specifying particular period they had been paid for and without sub- mission of requested M – 4 form . Enforcement proceedings are still under way.
In the meantime, my intentions to find new job became a utopia since I was convinced and pretty much certain that my former employer obstructed my new job with any company in Kakanj, with different kinds of pressure imposed my eventual new employers.
My former workmates also take special part in my case. Affirmative and positive solution of my case sort of gave them some hope that there is a light on the end of the tunnel, but influence and threats by their employers and superiors disallows them even to be spotted in my company.
From remaining four media houses in Kakanj, radio, newspapers and two web sites, including two freelance journalists, not one had the audacity to mention my case.
Brave workmates would phone me, enquire about my case, and pay respect to, as they claim, my courage to face local powerful people.
Their fear was to some extent justified, since the unemployment rate is increasing and the market competition has become tougher and in order to murmur and oppose against your own employer does not seem desirable at least.
Little local community, we all know each other and most people are related one way or another and political influence on media houses all together creates poor, scary, frightened, obeying, unmotivated and auto censorship based journalists, unprepared to fight for their rights including professional rights as well. Public solidarity, looking from working environment perspective, due to their fear, has omitted as well, although most of them have been working more than 15 years and is still waiting for pension, retirement and health care service funds to be paid on their behalf. MZ case and charges I had pressed against my former employer has to certain amount “improved their working status”, in terms of salary/ wages increase to BAM 410.00. They even got a microwave so they can cook their own food and the check in system for staff has also been installed. This is sad indeed!!!
I shall recall the old proverb “If it wasn’t broadcasted in media – it had never happened”. I have never actually wanted to speak in public, even during the moments when the verdict was passed to my favor. I refused to post in local media houses in Kakanj, since my victory in this labor dispute was the victory of all journalists. It proved that journalists are powerful and they can give some space to this issue and make it appear visible and obvious in public as well.
Court decision was not adequately followed by media in our local community, which would reinforce it and make it more serious in terms of employers and his / her relationship towards the employees. However, it did point out, to certain extent, that journalists were interested in battle for their fight.
Fear caused by pressure imposed by the superiors or poor financial state in community cannot be justified and be the reason for not taking any action required. An individual finds it difficult to fight for his / her own rights because it requires better solidarity level amongst journalists. Their Union organization would surely contribute in changes of journalists’ attitudes and better obedience of the legal provisions by the employer.
Smaller communities, at first sight, seem thankless for such organizing but if supported by colleagues from larger centers this can be overcome.
In my case the support provided by the Association of BiH Journalists was limitless and gave me strength and faith that I may succeed in the battle for my rights. It was their support that made me expose my story in public and I hereby confirm that it is essential to talk and discuss about our problems in order to have economic and social protection thus not being biased and operate as independent journalists fighting for public interest.