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500 people took part in a nationwide journalists' protest

24 September 2012 / 17:09:22  GRReporter
2507 reads

Victoria Mindova

Journalists in Greece are on a 24-hour strike against wage cuts and dismissals. Newspapers, TVs and radio stations are stopping their broadcasts for one day, leaving the country in informational blackout as a reaction to the uncertainty that is due to the repeal of collective labour agreements. According to those employed in the sector, over 2,500 journalists, technicians and professionals in the media have lost their jobs in the last year and a half because of the government policy. Almost 20% of the active journalists registered in the Greek Journalist Union are unemployed and the change in labour relations in the country is expected to increase their number.

The meeting and the protest march that followed involved about 500 employees in the Greek media. "Today's protest is a warning to the government," the president of the labour union of employees at Skai TV, Konstantinos Davlos, told GRReporter. "One of the measures that we consider inappropriate is the increase in the retirement age to 67 years. I cannot imagine that any journalist will be able to perform his or her job adequately after the age of 60 or to withstand the competition from his or her younger counterparts. In addition to that, we call for the collective labour agreements to be restored."

Konstantinos Davlos explained that after the introduction of individual labour agreements, journalists have been living with the fear of remaining unemployed at any time. There is no protection of the country's workforce. "Under the new labour conditions, the employers can dismiss us at any time and they are allowed to pay us 50% of our rightful compensation for redundancy. At the same time, the government is preparing to further reduce benefits legally. Working at weekends is no longer paid as overtime. The cuts affect the quality of work and thus, the quality of our lives."

President of the union of technicians in radio stations in Greece, Dimitris Kamarinopoulos, participated in the media protest as well. He led the procession that began at noon on Monday from the building of the journalists union in Athens and ended in front of the Ministry of Employment and Social Security. Different slogans could be heard over the loudspeakers. "Editors, journalists, technicians - unite against government policy," "Let lawmakers get a salary of 500 euro to see how people live," "We have the right to bread, education and freedom." Kamarinopoulos told GRReporter, "The measures the tripartite coalition government is taking today are very difficult for ordinary people. A very serious wave of discontent is raising that will not be easy to control and it seems to be affecting them (the government)."

Those employed in the media industry in Greece delivered a representative petition to the Ministry of Employment. It includes their demands for the restoration of labour rights in the form that they were prior to the peak of the crisis. Upon leaving the Ministry, they made it clear that the office of the relevant minister had received the demands of the protesters, but did not promise that they would be fulfilled.

The problems in media circles are the same as these that the people working in all sectors of the economy in Greece are experiencing. The fiscal consolidation programme provides additional cuts that will affect mainly those employed in public administration. The conditions for Greece to receive the next tranche of financial aid include a formal commitment to the reduction of pensions, salaries and a series of structural reforms. These measures should reduce the budget deficit to zero in 2015. If Greece is to continue receiving aid from Europe and the International Monetary Fund, strikes and protests will not stop the ongoing changes. However, this week on Wednesday, 26 September, a nationwide strike supported by the unions from all sectors will paralyse the country.

Tags: SocietyMediaStrikesProtestsMeeting
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