We wish you happiness, courage and solidarity in 2022.

Dear trade unionists, journalists, media and workers.

Another difficult year is behind us. Almost every step we take in a positive direction encounters the opposite reaction from the other side – either political or from the employer, and more and more often from the public, we are obliged to serve. The lack of public confidence in the system discredited politicians and devalued science, culminating in this epidemic in a cacophony of unverified information. We are, therefore, behind a challenging year. Nevertheless, given the social circumstances, the activity of trade unions in the past year has been markedly increased by various forms of action.

Nevertheless, we had more work to do; working conditions for all media workers were even more dangerous – as much because of the epidemic, so much because of the increasing attacks on journalists. These attacks are becoming more and more complex, and we should not forget that they were facilitated by the President and the Prime Minister himself with comments and devaluing us as a mediator between politics and the public. Moreover, the top of the state police violated the basic rule of diplomatic communication, the one about “not killing messengers.”

In the hot-cold game of politics, epidemics, and public media functions, legislators are preparing another labor-deregulation package while struggling with complex conditions: the new Labor Law envisages legalization of current labor market circumstances in a direction that would further reduce security. The cost and value of our work. Measures such as increasing the number of overtime hours allowed or increasing the possibility of working for other employers are not the first time we have encountered this. But it was only the first time we had stumbled upon them inexperiencedly. Now, some 15 years later, we are still aware that the same measures in the same period have resulted in a huge number of underemployed, unemployed, and underpaid insecure workers, and the sector itself has lost half of its permanent jobs. All this has not contributed to a more stable, healthier, and safer media market in Croatia, so we are surprised by the Government trying to implement the old measures and get new results.

The Government’s attack is not only on labor – but also on trade union organizations. The same new Labor Law is trying to tie our hands. The newly proposed measures reduce the labor protection of trade union commissioners, which jeopardizes trade union organizations. As soon as we became a little stronger, employers and politicians decided to stand in our way, consciously ignoring the fact that this form of organization in the media leads to a healthier, more stable, and better media field in Croatia. We will not give up on that.

 We are reacting to new attempts at disenfranchisement with an even more intensive trade union organization. We have established new branches; we are uniting freelancers; we are expanding the area of struggle to the workers of the audiovisual sector; we are negotiating a collective agreement on the public service (HRT), and so on. The more complicated the times, the stronger the union. This testifies that the media workers have recognized the importance of trade union organization after many years. We continue to gather unions operating in the media sector; we will strengthen cooperation with experts to define the requirements for a national collective agreement and begin the process in 2022.

Last year, we applied for several international tenders, of which we won two projects – one to strengthen collective bargaining and the other to strengthen the protection of local media. We have also become partners on several international projects. We participate in the working group’s work for SLAPP lawsuits and cooperate with the CND, institutions, and international institutions in resolving cases. We are actively working with the Ministry of the Interior to strengthen media workers’ physical and online security. We are also actively participating in the debate on a new Media Act proposal. We organized the annual assembly of the European Federation of Journalists, which accepted our statements on the importance of the joint fight against SLAPP and the importance of protecting local media. We cooperate intensively with the Gender Equality Ombudsperson to build a system to protect journalists from harassment and sexual harassment. Most importantly, we continuously provide concrete support to our colleagues daily in their daily tasks and when they are exposed to attacks or are in another form of problem.

Our goal for next year is to start negotiations on a national collective, start establishing branches in large private media in which the establishment of trade unions by employers is still viewed with disapproval, fight for stronger protection of freelancers and freelancers and bring together colleagues who are atypical employment in the trade union and fight for their rights at national and European level. Furthermore, our goal is to continue cooperation with related organizations on the protection of professional rights, to initiate collective bargaining in several houses, ensure better protection of workers ‘, workers’ and professional rights and their safety, and continue to strengthen solidarity and networking in the media sector.

For all that, we need you too, so if you work in any position in the media market, join us in our fight for a healthier system because journalism is a public good!

All the best and solidarity in 2022.

Maja Sever, president of TUCJ

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