More than half of employees in the media, 62 percent of them, receive a salary that is below the national average, while a quarter receives a salary that is at or below the minimum wage in Montenegro, it was estimated at the presentation of research by the Trade Union of Media of Montenegro (SMCG).
SMCG researcher Bojana Konatar, presenting the findings of a survey conducted as part of the “Trade unions for Fair Recovery” project on a sample of 95 respondents from April to June, said that the position of employees in the media is not improving, but that problems are repeating year after year.
She stated that every third media worker in Montenegro works longer than eight hours, while 70.5 percent of them work overtime.
Konatar added that it would not be a problem if even 60 percent of them were not paid for that overtime.
“The situation is similar for working on weekends, every second respondent often works on weekends, while 74 percent of them have never been paid an additional daily wage for working on Sundays. This is not surprising because until now it was not even an employer’s obligation, but we hope that this practice will start this month”, said Konatar.
As Konatar said, the survey showed that employers still do not recognize the importance of employee training, since 66 percent of respondents had less than one training per year during the previous five years.
Only every third respondent specializes in only one area, and more than 70 percent of them follow what is current that day, so they follow several different topics, said Konatar.
The President of the SMCG Radomir Kračković, presenting the analysis of media operations in the past year, which is based on publicly available data from the Revenue and Customs Administration (UPC), said that the media, which had 1,939 employees, last year had a symbolic income of 50.3 thousand EUR.
“Total revenues of all media were EUR 47.47 million, of which EUR 25.03 million were budget revenues and EUR 20 million from marketing, while expenditures were EUR 47.42 million,” said Kračković.
This, he said, shows that the media business is difficult and is getting more complicated.
“One of the reasons for such a situation is that we have a huge number of media in such a small space – as many as 222. There are also those that are not registered with the competent state authorities, so Montenegro has a world record for the number of media in relation to the number of residents,” he said.
He said that, according to the data obtained by SMCG, 130 portals were operating in Montenegro in June, while there were 69 electronic media, i.e. radio stations and television.
In Montenegro, three newspapers are published every day, there are also two weeklies, 15 periodicals as well as one newspaper and two television agencies, explained Kračković.
He said that the biggest plus shown last year was the Public Service RTCG, but that it is financed with 90 percent from the state budget.
“Local public broadcasters showed a positive business overall, but a good part of the profit shown is actually covering multi-year debts for taxes and contributions, so in some of these media, earnings from the previous period are still owed,” Kračković said.
He said that the daily and weekly press are still holding on, despite the drop in circulation they are facing, while all but one of the private television stations showed a huge loss in business.
State Secretary in the Ministry of Culture and Media, Mirjana Maslovar, stated that professional media are the foundation of a democratic society, which can only progress if citizens have reliable information.
“We in the Government are also aware of this, and the report you presented points to it. The position of employees in the media has improved in the year behind us, but there are still problems that burden your community”, stated Maslovar.
She said that their vision is Montenegro as a democratic society in which employees in the media work professionally in the interests of citizens.
“If we take into account that the socio-economic position of the citizens of Montenegro has been improved by the changes in numerous collective agreements this year, we remain concerned that the majority of employees in the media failed to secure better conditions for their work through negotiations in their parent companies,” she said.
She said that the Ministry is open to providing support in order to improve the position of employees in the media.
It is planned that the Ministry of Culture and Media initiates the Government’s decision on better regulationg lengt of service for journalists. Also, we have information that the media unions are negotiating with the Ministry of Finance on the drafting and signing of the first branch collective agreement for the field of media,” said Maslovar.
As she said, this will significantly improve the position of employees in the media.
The president of the European Federation of Journalists, Maja Sever, said that people who are in trade unions and associations are bound by a passion for the defense of journalism and an awareness of how important it is for individuals and society.
“What we are fighting for is to ensure the conditions for journalists to freely and professionally do quality journalism and thus be at the service of citizens. You have seen in recent events how important it is for peace and democracy,” Sever said.
She said that one can witness how fragile the position of independent journalism is not only in the Balkans but also in Europe.
“From the beginning, the European Federation of Journalists advocates and supports strong and effective regulation. Simply, we live in a time when we need a legislative mechanism and a system of rules of conduct to ensure that journalists can report freely,” said Sever.
She said that there is no country in Europe where journalists do not face threats and attacks, adding that the perpetrators often go unpunished.
Threats and attacks have become part of our business. It cannot and should not be like that. This key role must be played by employers and media owners, but the protection and rights of workers is clearly not at the top of the priority list,” Sever assessed.
In a panel dedicated to how unions can help, the coordinator of the Youth and Freelancer Section of the SMCG, Ivana Vlaović, pointed out that the main task of the Section is to familiarize young people with the advantages of union organizing and to break the ruling stereotypes about unions.
“Young journalists face numerous challenges, unsafe working conditions, and we should work with them while they are still studying. They should be familiar with their rights and understand that the union is their support,” said Vlaović.
The president of the RTCG employee union and the vice president of SMCG, Jadranka Drobnjak, pointed out that the union struggle is of great importance for improving the socio-economic position of employees in the Public Service. “Our path to the Collective Agreement required a lot of patience, negotiations, consultations with employees, the organization of the first strike in the history of the Public Service and, of course, the enormous support of the workers that we received. In the end, we kept all the benefits and the salary coefficients were increased from 10 to 40 percent,” said Drobnjak.
Psychologist Dragana Đokić said that employees in the media are exposed to numerous stressors on a daily basis and that this is an issue that we need to deal with more: “Employees in the media are exposed to numerous mental health challenges and I think that in the Union we have laid a good foundation for dealing with this topic “.
Source: Agencija MINA i SMCG