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Thursday, June 30, 2022

Response of the management of RTV Slovenia to the strike demands: The public has the right to be informed

By: L.K.F.

The Coordination of Journalists’ Unions of RTV Slovenia, which is one of the three representative unions of the public institution, has announced a warning strike for May 23rd, 2022. “In the management of RTV Slovenia we agree that the right to strike is a constitutional right, but we point out that it must be carried out in accordance with the law and that during the strike the public media service must also guarantee the constitutional right – the public’s right to be informed,” emphasised the leadership of RTVS.

The management was acquainted with the strike demands of the union. “According to the law, a strike is a permissible form of work interruption for the realisation of economic and social rights of workers and interests from work, so we highlight some demands that are unfounded and raise doubts about the legality of the strike,” the management said. Among them is the demand for the resignation of the management of RTV Slovenia. Should a lawsuit be filed in the future and the court declare the strike illegal, the management of RTV Slovenia will be forced to act in accordance with the regulations governing employment and public finances. Regarding the strike demands, which refer to the realisation of economic and social rights of workers and interests from work, the management emphasised that many of the demands are already being implemented and supported. It is for this reason that the management has always been in dialogue with the social partners, with which they want to improve the position and status of the public service broadcaster RTV Slovenia and its employees.

They also point out: “Let us recall that last year, in the first year of its mandate, the management of RTV Slovenia carried out several activities to increase revenues, manage labour costs and rationalise all other business segments. Despite the efforts made, the measures proved to be insufficient due to the unexpected growth of expenditures resulting from the sudden and exponential rise in energy prices and the unchanged amount of the RTV fee. The management of RTV Slovenia has therefore already called on the founder of the public institution to harmonise the amount of the RTV contribution with rising inflation and rising residual costs to enable the smooth and high-quality implementation of the public service in full.”

Since the beginning of its term, the management of RTV Slovenia has been constantly striving for the autonomy and independent operation of the public media service RTV Slovenia, which is clearly stipulated by the RTV Slovenia Act, according to which it is the duty of the founder to ensure the institutional autonomy and editorial independence of the public institution. “Management therefore regularly responds to public attacks on some employees and constantly calls on the entire public to have an appropriate culture of dialogue. Unfortunately, the events of recent months, especially in the pre-election period, show that the interest in influencing the public service broadcaster RTV Slovenia is extremely high. Some political parties even publicly demand a change of leadership, which indicates a direct interference in the operation of public institutions and a pronounced lack of understanding of a very clear legal provision on the independent and autonomous operation of public institutions.”

According to the management, the employees of RTV Slovenia as well as the domestic and foreign public should be most concerned about the flood of numerous proposals for amendments to the RTV Slovenia Act, “as they show that politics wants to subjugate the public media institution in every way and immediately. It should be borne in mind that the adoption of new laws – especially in the largest media institution in the country – can quickly lead to a dangerous practice, a practice when politics will change, adapt the policy of RTV Slovenia in the event of a change of government due to greater political influence. This is in stark contrast to the principle of the public media and a worrying announcement of the end of an independent, objective, pluralistic media that must act in the interests of all citizens and not in the interests of individual political parties.”

It should be added that the flood of proposals and the speed of changes in legislation usually weaken the quality of the adopted law, so at least the intentions of the proponents of changes in legislation are questionable: “In accordance with the above, the management of RTV Slovenia strongly and decisively supports the first point of the union’s strike demands for autonomy and independent operation of the public institution, as we are convinced that politics cannot and must not interfere in RTV Slovenia. In this sense, we are also surprised by the time of the strike, which will leave the impression to a large part of the public that the Coordination of Journalists’ Unions with a strike at a given moment and with similar demands that have nothing to do with the position of employees at RTV Slovenia, is indirectly involved in legislative changes, the sole purpose of which is to replace the key bodies of the public institution – the Programme and Supervisory Board and the management.”

The management of RTV Slovenia is constantly striving to respect the professional criteria and principles of journalistic ethics in the programmes of RTV Slovenia. The document, adopted in June 2000, needs to be revised, as the Director-General has repeatedly emphasised. They are preparing a new draft document.

Regarding the strike demand to raise the minimum wages, the management says that the general director of RTV Slovenia Andrej Grah Whatmough started talks with the social partners about the renewal of the systematisation of jobs at the public institution and the conclusion of an annex to the collective agreement to regulate the wages of those placed in the lowest wage classes.

Otherwise, the management of RTV Slovenia conducts a direct, regular dialogue with all three unions and other social partners and will be committed to this in the future, so they do not understand the requirements for social dialogue, as it is already underway. At the same time, they reiterate that they regret the decision to strike. They are convinced that internal frictions and conflicts must be resolved primarily through direct dialogue and within the internal working environment. “Thus, we invite the union to continue talks with the management, as we believe that only with joint efforts can we find appropriate solutions for better working conditions and a more suitable working environment,” wrote RTV Slovenia CEO Andrej Grah Whatmough.

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