Project – Strengthening the role of trade unions in mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 crisis
The objective of our project is to strengthen the position of the Trade Union of Croatian Journalists (TUCJ) that will lead to the first collective agreement for journalists, media professionals and media freelancers in Croatia. We have four main activities that are higly connected to improving labour rights. First activity is related to a singing branch collective agreement, second activity is analysis and collecting date about media freelancers in Croatia for building clear position on their status, third is strengthening the capacity for collective bargaining in small newsroom in other cities in Croatia, and fourth is Video Podcast – Union Kitchen – that is introducing a new (digital) form of presentation of unions and union activism and communication with union members and the general public as such.
First activity – Preparation of a National Collective Agreement in media
In Croatia, the state of the labour rights in the media, as it is in all the region, is highly exposed to insecurity and bad working conditions, therefore, the National collective agreement would certainly help to regulate the rights of media workers. But, before we enter into negations with employers and other social partners, we will have to bring together all trade unions in the media sector and also media and law experts, and media workers, in order to increase the pressure on the other side.
We started talking with affiliated unions on a collective agreement for the media sector. We gathered a working team of representatives of the Trade union of Croatian Journalists, the Trade Union of Education and Media, and the Trade Union of Graphic and Media.
We agreed on further steps. As far as branch collective bargaining is concerned, the biggest problem is that the Croatian Employers’ Association, the organization of publishers is relatively weak, and they have been avoiding active involvement in social dialogue. Our first task is to ask the employers to form a negotiating team. We have agreed on public communication about our efforts to start the negotiation process through a social network and we made group in which we communicate. Also, we are exchanging information through our web page and other public channels. We agreed to build a strategy for gaining public support, and putting pressure on the other side to get involved in the negotiations. We have started activities in this field, and after the first meeting we organized round table with all the involved unions, media workers and media experts to discuss this very important process.
A lot of media came in the press conference where we talked about singing a branch collective agreement. And after the round table, a lot of media reported about our initiative. For example: Portal Bilten, Portal Novosti, T-portal, Portal Jutarnji list, Croatian news agency – HINA.
Second activity – Collecting data about atypical workers or freelancers in the media
Our second activity is a collecting date about atypical workers or freelancers in the media. At the beginning of the COVID crisis the union surveyed fellow freelancers about their labor rights and the impact on them. The research showed that 28.7% of freelance journalists, freelancers and part-time associates were left without any engagements in the Croatian media, 26.2% of them lost most of their previous engagements, and in 15.9% of them their engagement halved. Therefore, The aim of this activity is to collect needed evidence on the status and current situation of media freelancers. Also, our goal is to raise awareness among freelancers and other stakeholders about individual and specific problems of freelancers and raise their awareness and capacities in the fight for their working rights. We stared with the survey, and we will analyze the results through the June, and will have a public presentation of the results in September.
Third activity – Digital trade unionism
Besides the introduction of a digital two-way communication with union members, this project proposes production of the podcast Trade Union Kitchen.
Podcast Trade Union Kitchen is introducing a new (digital) form of presentation of unions and union activism and communication with union members and the general public as such: the podcast Trade Union Kitchen, in which we cook food and have casual conversations with important people from the trade union movement or from the journalistic scene about the importance of trade unions and notably the specific need to agree on and sign the first collective agreement for journalists, media professionals and media freelancers in Croatia. The aim of this activity is to raise awareness of the broader public on issues and challenges that are facing ‘workers in the media sector in Croatia’. It aims also to present the need of articulating and bargaining the interests and rights of media workers in Croatia. We filmed two video podcasts. The first podcast was filmed with famous Croatian journalist Mirjana Rakić and second podcast was filmed with students of the journalism how joined the TUCJ and now have a branch for young journalists and students.
Fourth activity – Strenghtening the capacity for collective bargaining
The aim of this activity is to approach newsrooms in local community through existing union representatives from a bottom-up approach that would require a more open approach to journalists and their problems. Instead of coming to their newsrooms and telling them what their problems are, as the Trade Unions in Croatia used to do, we would like media workers to see us as potential partners in solving their work problems. The aim of this phase will be to build newsroom capacities for social dialogue, educate newsroom union commissioners and active union members so that they can directly implement the acquired knowledge and skills and initiate collective bargaining procedures with members within their newsrooms.
The project is part of an EU-funded project by the European federation of Journalists.