The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its regional organisation, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), have together backed a journalists’ strike in Kiev in early April after the TVi broadcaster ceased paying salaries to 300 employees.
The Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine (IMTUU), an affiliate of the IFJ and the EFJ, held the demonstration on 2 April in support of the journalists where it demanded the management to pay the media staff.
According to TVi staff, the channel, which stopped broadcasting on 23rd March, recently changed ownership to David Zhvania’s and the new management ceased the salary payments. The ownership of the broadcaster has been in dispute since it was subject to an aggressive take-over two years ago by a mysterious investor. Since then the lack of clarity over who was actually in control of the broadcaster and therefore ultimately responsible for employment and editorial decisions has been a matter of intense speculation and, when it comes to the mistreatment of employees, great anger.
“It is a problem of the information about mass media’s owners in Ukraine. It is a typical situation in the country,” said IMTUU’s President, Yuriy Lukanov. “The channel’s staff has become hostage of this conflict.”
The President of the IFJ, Jim Boumelha, backed the Ukrainian affiliate condemning this “outrageous” situation. “The IFJ calls on full transparency and regulation over media ownership in Ukraine and reminds the TVi’s owners that the failure to pay salaries or compensation following dismissal is illegal. We therefore urge them to respect our colleagues’ rights and to clarify their conditions immediately.”
Boumelha added that the Federation also supports “the action taken by IMTUU as a demonstration that only the creation of strong trade unions can fight against the tyranny of unscrupulous owners.”
Mogens Blicher Bjerregård, the EFJ President, said: “The declining working conditions of journalists in TVi has put independent and critical journalism in danger. We urge the management of TVi to engage in dialogue with journalists and IMTUU to settle the dispute and ensure that the quality and independence of journalism are not compromised.”