National Report – Labour and Legal Status of Journalists in Montenegro

Author: Marijana CAMOVIC

 

The conclusions of the National Report are:

1.At the state and institutional level there are no official statistics on the mass media and media employees and if there are any they are often out of date. This makes it difficult to have any serious insight into the state of the media industry in Montenegro, and especially in social status of media employees. Monstat should statistically process relevant information concerning mass media and their employees. The initiation of this idea should be the obligation of professional associations. State authorities in charge for media issues and the social status of media employees should be defined. Those authorities should regularly control whether the media laws are respected and they should be able to change the laws if they allow bad practice. It is necessary to conduct thorough research on the extents of labour right violations of media employees. The research should include the number and the shape of the cases reported on the various levels (courts, labour inspection, unions, etc.)

2.Advertising of state institutions and public companies is not proportionately allocated for all media bearing in mind their circulation and influence, and the practice of unfair competition in this area is introduced by media from abroad (Serbia), which are offering advertising space for lower prices. State institutions and public companies should, while advertising in media, try not to encourage unfair competition and to respect the facts concerning audience and ratings, and by doing that their messages would reach larger audience. The relevant state authorities should find the solution for the fight against unfair competition introduced in Montenegro by foreign media which are reducing the chances for profit for national media. It is necessary to find the way to prevent a shutdown of local media due to unfair competition from the region.

3.Business associations, whose members are also media owners, do not have enough information on the situation in the media and are not fully aware whether their recommendations on respect for the law are respected by the employers. Union of Employers should pay more attention to its members from the media industry, both in the sense to divert them from the non-observance of the law, and in the sense to help them when necessary. Appeals should not be the only mechanism of influence. 1 4

4.Some private media, with the tacit consent of the employees, pay taxes and contributions for the minimum allowed salary of 193 euros or so, while the remaining money is paid in cash to the employees. The media should stop the practice of paying taxes and contributions for the minimal allowed salary. By doing that they are violating the law and jeopardize the very existence of the employees in the future, when they go into retirement. Poor financial position of the media should not be an excuse for illegal behaviour that jeopardizes the long-term social status of employees.

5.Media employers often sign contracts that are unfavourable for the employees, using their fear of losing job and the fact that employees don’t have a strong union support. Media which introduce new services, such as portals, make journalists work for both media outlet in which they are primarily employed as well as for the portal, without being additionally paid. Employees are not sufficiently informed about their rights and ways to organize in professional associations, which exist only on paper, and in trade unions. Media employees should strengthen their position in relation to employers through involvement in professional and trade union organizations and through improving awareness of their rights and possibilities of fighting for their achievement. Also, labour inspection should pay more attention to media mode work control. Media employees should be more actively informed about the manner of exercising their rights, and professional associations and trade unions should take a more active role.

6.In Montenegro there is a 10 years old Branch Collective Agreement for informative, graphic and publishing activity, whose provisions are incompatible with the current Labour Act and therefore inapplicable. It is necessary to adopt Branch Collective Agreement and comply it with the current Law on Labour, and also to upgrade rights that relate to the media industry, while trade unions must begin to negotiate with media employers on the branch and individual level. The Branch Collective Agreement should state the specific features and the essence of the journalistic profession.

7. In Montenegro there is no single journalist self-regulatory body, and Media Council for Self-Regulation, which was during the first two years of its existence funded by the state and which gathers a large number of media, is not recognized as relevant and unbiased by several influential media, which have decided to establish the institution of ombudsman. A single self-regulatory body, which would gather all the media and contribute to the unity and cohesion within the journalistic profession, should be established, or at least mechanisms should be provided so that existing self-regulation bodies could cooperate in order to improve the professional and ethical journalistic standards in Montenegro.

8. The journalistic profession is not recognized in any law and regulation at the lower level, and there are no established requirements for practising the profession. It is necessary to recognize the profession and its specific features through legislation and future collective agreement. Media employers should constantly educate their employees, by organizing trainings themselves but also by allowing employees to attend training events organized by institutions, organizations, trade unions and other associations in the country and abroad. In this way the training of journalists would reach a higher level, and they would be able to follow the latest trends in the profession and would simply be better equipped to do their job.

9.Portals and online media, their establishment and functioning are not recognized by any law or lower legal document. Agency for Electronic Media, which was declared competent for the job, has not come up with any regulation book that would solve this issue. It is necessary for the Agency to provide rules that would introduce legal framework for the portals.

Access the full report here.

 

Image courtesy of @Pixabay

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