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Employers still prohibit union organizing

Employees in the media are pressured by numerous problems, from threats to security, political and other pressures, poor working conditions, so it is not surprising that young people see themselves less and less in the media sector.

This was announced at the Forum for journalists “Where is journalism today”, organized by the Trade Union of Media of Montenegro, on the eve of January 23, the Day of Journalists of Montenegro. The Minister of Culture and Media Dr. Tamara Vujović actively participated in the Forum.

“Vijesti” TV journalist Nikola Milosavić Aleksić said that when the safety of employees is threatened, the support of his colleagues, who lined up in his case, is crucial. However, when it comes to the reactions of the authorities, the president of the trade union organization RTV Podgorica, Milan Nikčević, says that declarative condemnations of the attack are not of excessive importance, but that more concrete action should be taken.

TV Nova journalist Željka Mirković stated that there are few journalists involved in unions because they are afraid of their employers to join unions.

Journalists must talk about problems and their position more often, to jointly improve the profession,” said Mirković.

It was said at the meeting that the problem of a lack of young people in the media is increasingly evident.

Olivera Nikolić from the Media Institute said that soon we won’t even have journalism, if young people continue to leave, and that a functional model of institutional cooperation should be found that will help to solve this problem.

“Vijesti” journalist Biljana Matijašević also agrees with this, saying that young people no longer want to work in private media where they work a lot and earn little. Ivana Vlaović, coordinator of the Youth and Freelancer Section, followed up on that, emphasizing that newsrooms need to invest much more effort in motivating young people to stay in the profession.

Nikolić questioned the method of re-election of the director general of the Radio Television of Montenegro, Boris Raonić, and the lack of reaction from the ministry responsible for the media.

The Minister of Culture and Media, Dr. Tamara Vujović, replied that final judgments must be respected, but that the department lacks mechanisms for action, since each of their acts would be considered a certain type of pressure on the Council or management.

SMCG Vice President Marijana Camović Veličković welcomed that someone from the state administration finally stated that there is a legally binding court ruling on the selection of RTCG’s general director.

How the Law on the National Public Broadcaster was amended is not good, the public was excluded, and in the end, two people, the prime minister (Milojko Spajić) and the illegally elected director general, agreed on a financing model,” she said.

The journalist of the Television of Montenegro, Emina Hodžić Knežević, said that it is necessary to introduce the responsibility of the members of the Council, since in the past their decisions cost that media house a significant amount of money.

The forum also discussed the obsolescence of the Montenegrin Code of Ethics, self-regulation, the intolerance of government officials to criticism, as well as the effectiveness of the Fund for Media Pluralism.

“The criteria prescribed by the state are not respected, but money is given to everyone who applies,” said Camović Veličković.

The minister replied that the Fund is a good model for support, but that an evaluation should be done to show its effects.

Mirković also pointed out the shortcomings of the Fund, although she believes that this kind of support is very necessary.

“You have shows that already exist and have received support. Also, some shows just change the name and the content remains the same. In general, there are too many political shows and we need to turn our attention to social and life problems,” said Mirković.

In her introductory speech, Vujović said that they are trying to create the best possible atmosphere for media work and reminded that in the last weeks of the previous administration, the Media Strategy for the period from last year to 2027 was adopted. She also promised that the procedure for passing a set of media laws will be completed in the second quarter of this year.

The president of the SMCG, Radomir Kračković, said that the low average salary compared to the national level is still the biggest problem of media workers in Montenegro.

Some new allowances have been introduced, such as per diems for working on Sundays, but the financial position of smaller private media and local broadcasters remains a cause for great concern,” stated Kračković.

He said that they see the solution to this and other problems in the adoption of a new branch collective agreement.

“There is still no agreement with the employers, but we will try to reach one again this year,” Kračković said.

Head of the Media, Education and Culture Department of the Embassy of the United States of America (USA), Stephen Dreikorn, said that similar to journalists in most places around the world, Montenegrin journalists face various challenges, from low wages and poor working conditions to security conditions, and even and the risk of physical attack.

Journalists, as Dreikorn said, must receive decent wages and the conditions for their work must be improved. He said that the Government needs to create a favorable legal environment for media work, and media owners must fulfill their obligations.

Concerning the legal framework, government officials and politicians should show respect to journalists and media associations in creating new laws. The process should be transparent, involving all key actors and avoiding closed circles of interlocutors as in the case we saw recently,” said Dreikorn.

Forum for journalists: Where is journalism today was organized within the project “Media literacy for media workers”, which was supported by the US Embassy in Podgorica.

Trade Union of Media of Montenegro

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