The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has condemned the Swiss media group Ringier Axel Springer Media AG for the mass dismissal of journalists and media employees at Serbian media outlets (Blic, Alo, 24 casa, NIN, Blic, Zena Plusand,…) operated by the group. The EFJ gave strong backing to its Serbian affiliates UNS (The Journalists’ Association of Serbia – JAS) and NUNS (the Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia – IJAS). In a letter sent to the management of the Swiss media group, the EFJ called on the management to investigate serious claims made by media professionals about the unofficial ban on trade union activities and violations of workers’ labour rights.
According to UNS and NUNS, more than 30 journalists, employees and regular associates (including single mothers, near-pension journalists and journalists with children) employed at media outlets owned by Ringier Axel Springer Serbia were dismissed without any notice, reasons or any objective criteria for layoffs. On May 29, the management of the group told the remaining journalists that the mass dismissal in the company was due to the “rationalisation of company’s expenses” and thus “the weakest links had to go” to avoid more layoffs until the end of the year.
The EFJ and its affiliates, UNS and NUNS, strongly protested against the layoffs and the irresponsible dismissal procedures used by the Serbian subsidiary of Ringier Axel Springer Media AG. The EFJ argued that the layoffs clearly violates the Code of Conduct set out by the media group by ignoring basic ethical standards and corporate responsibility towards its employees and freelancers. It further argues that the group violates the freedom of association for its workers which is guaranteed by the domestic and international conventions on labour rights and the right to association.
The Serbian journalists recall the fact that Ringier Axel Springer Serbia repeatedly made public statements stating that they are a “very profitable company with business sucessess”.
Considering this mass dismissal in Serbia as a media freedom violation by a non-state actor, the EFJ will submit this case to the Council of Europe platform for journalists’ rights.
The EFJ is calling the Serbian journalists to show solidarity with affected colleagues and asks the Swiss media group to revoke its decision and investigate claims of media violations.
The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) is the largest organisation of journalists in Europe, representing over 320. 000 journalists in 61 journalists’ organisations across 40 countries.